March 19th is the 5th anniversary of the war in Iraq. It’s easy for me to remember because that’s my youngest daughter’s birthday.
The two of us were sitting in a restaurant, all eyes glued to the TV’s throughout the establish-ment. Afterward, I went home and listened to the many embed reports from the advancing American troops, speeding across the desert toward Baghdad.
As I crawled into bed that night, the moment my head hit the pillow, my heart heavy from the news of the day, the Holy Spirit spoke to me: “Osama doesn’t know his Redeemer. Pray for him.”
My eyes bulged, my heart quickened as my mind screamed, “No! You don’t understand! I’m an American - a patriot. You don’t know what you’re asking, Lord!”
The response came again, “Pray for him.”
Reluctantly, almost ashamedly, I tossed my covers aside and slid to my knees. I cried as I prayed as fervantly as I could recall having prayed for anything in my life.
“Love your enemies,” came to my mind.
“Yes, Jesus,” came my reply.
Fast forward to last Sunday night. I’d been watching FoxNews as one talking head after another commented on Senator Barack Obama - an Illinois Senator who aspires to be the nation’s President (gosh, did I just describe Abe Lincoln?) - and his Pastor Jeremiah Wright and his controversial comments made from the pulpit of Trinity United Church of Christ.
As I arose from my recliner, the Spirit spoke to me again, a gentle, fatherly reminder: “Obama is your brother.”
Again, my mind cried out, “But he’s a Democrat, Lord, don’t you get it?”
It’s Tuesday, March 18th, the day before my daughter’s birthday (now married with a 2-year old baby). I’m writing from the waiting room of an Abilene, Texas hospital waiting room. My father-in-law was just wheeled out of surgery and is recovering well, thank God.
Obama is speaking on FoxNews at this moment, making a much-publi-cized speech on racism. He said some good stuff, generated some applause with his passionate preacherly style. It was a well-structured speech...but he’s a politician fighting for his political life.
A man just walked into the waiting room, looked at my mother-in-law, pointed at the TV and said, “Are you watching this?
She obviously had her husband’s condition on her mind and answered, honestly, “Not really.” The man replied, “Good, it isn’t worth it,” and he walked off.
Obviously, a Republican.
I couldn’t help but see the humor in these two moments with God: Osama, Obama...who’s next?
Yo mama? Dali Lama?
Seriously, it’s become pretty obvious to me that, when Jesus said “Love one another,” He meant it.
As a Workplace Chaplain, I often gather groups for Bible Study. Attendees come from virtually every major denominational background. I’m prone to remind-ing these Christians that we all have the same Father and that He must surely love it when His kids play well together. Such express-ions generally draw an ‘amen’ or some such agreeable reactions.
Yes, Obama is our brother but Cane was Abel’s brother. Jacob had his twin brother, Essau. We don’t always get along with those who are our natural, flesh and blood siblings; how much more difficult it is to embrace those whose very names cause hatred, rage, suspicion - all kinds of negative emotions - to rise up within us? We surely struggle with those of a different color or whose church traditions differ from our own.
I believe the Father wants to remind everyone that, through His eyes, politics don’t matter as much as we think they should. God has His own Divine Government which most believers can’t seem to wrap their minds around, so we embrace tradition and follow hard after doctrines and dogmas.
The many “one another” verses of the New Testament must apply even to Reverend Jeremiah Wright and the Trinity United Church of Christ where he has preached for decades. Though many may criticize, ostracize and demonize others who claim to be Christians, succeeding only in inviting a spirit of Division into the Body of Christ, truth is - in EVERY case - these same individuals are motivated by hatred, having done nothing - not even a trevailing prayer - that might cause the individuals in question to come over to their way of thinking.
Obviously, those who criticize and sow seeds of hatred, even season- ing their criticisms with Scripture, couldn’t care less about those at whom their comments are direct-ed.
Love one another, no matter what the other might be preaching about Christ. Could that be correct? Isn’t God big enough to handle the hearts of His creation where Christ is concerned? Like peaches on a tree, no one can know the exact moment of harvesting except God Himself. God looks at the spirit of every human and deals with each on an individual basis.
Even where “false brethren” are concerned, the apostle Paul gave us an example we should all embrace in Philippians 1:15-19. He wrote: “It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News. Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice. For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance.”
Proverb 6:16-19 lists things that the Lord hates, the last of which is: “A false witness who breathes out lies [even under oath], and he who sows discord among his brethren,” (AMP).
While Barbara and I were driving home from the hospital tonight, listening to old time rock ‘n roll, a song by Stephen Stills came on the radio, the refrain of which goes like this:
And there’s a rose
in the fisted glove
and the eagle flies
with the dove,
and if you can’t be
with the one you love, honey,
love the one you’re with
Not very spiritual, I know. Point is, as I heard those words, all I could think about was how far we’d get if we would all simply love the next person God places in front of us.
By the way, Hillary’s our sister; yes, Jesus died for her, too.
Chew on THAT one for a minute!
“For God so loved Hillary...”
A servant of God
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