Revenge and violence are mindsets that should be foreign to anyone who believes in God. Patrick Maxwell, a 29-year-old American who served in Iraq, went back years later to fight ISIS. His main reason for doing, he told a New York Times reporter, was that in his first stint in Iraq he never once was able to pull the trigger and kill an enemy soldier. And then there was the grammy award winning film, The Sniper, about a soldier killing whom he called savages from his invisible vantage point. Oh, the main motivation for him was something like, “We kill them before they kill us.”
We’ve see a lot of killing in our world in the news of late, in our back door and in this tiny world gone wrong. The endless debate about just wars and the need to develop smarter weapons to reduce civilian deaths never seems to heal our world. Its as though we bought into the narrative that violence can end violence. Mostly it creates more of the same.
“Yet when you live life knowing that you’ve killed someone, it is scary. When I reflect on what it took for me to end a person’s life, I cannot recreate my mindset. To spill blood and end a life, I forced myself to rationalise that another human should die. And power over life is addicting. Very addicting.” US Marine Thomas James Brennan as told to the New York Times
The ancient commandment said it blunt and without apology, “Thou shall not kill!” That’s a law given by God inscribed on a stone tablet during a smoke-filled-fiery-mountain moment. Thousands of years later on a calmer mountain without smoke, the deep words spoken came from a red hot passionate heart. The rabbi said that Moses got it partly right, but it didn’t go deep enough. The true intent, He said, was about anger. If we could understand the heart, the intent of the what was said by the one who made humanity it becomes clear that a new world order that works is not based on laws, but on a transformed way of seeing that changes our way of living. We call it the beatitudes. He, the Son, called it the wise building a house on the rock.
Those penetrating words spoken on a mountain to the poorest of the poor by the Son are more radical and revolutionary than we are likely to understand. We know the unbending two-worded commandment, “Don’t kill…” But have we taken a moment to understand the deeper intent? The intent is reconciliation. “Take no revenge, don’t nurse hate, don’t be holding grudges, don’t be calling them idiots, because those are the roots of going for the kill.”
Those who believe in God should be versed in this altogether lovely intent, ‘reconciliation.’ Its our responsibility to do all we can to make it happen on this limited planet of billions. Think about the deep roots that grow a towering tree that could provide the shade of safety for all, men and women and children, gay or straight, conservatives or liberals, from all nations. A tree of that size requires tremendous roots! Grace, mercy, peace-makers and forgiveness would be the heavy working roots. Its what that rabbi, Jesus, was all about. Not everyone agreed with His message, so they did what they did to everyone that didn’t fit into the system, they killed Him!
But it started a reconciliation revolution that eventually broke down the ‘us-and-them’ dividing walls!!! But a revolution like this has to first start where the deepest of intentions spring, in the heart. Once it gets there it becomes the best kind of addictive.