About a year ago I watched the HBO documentary White Light, Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Looking back on it now, I think that was about the time I started to get my soul back…
I learned more from that one documentary than from all the years being taught about it in school combined. What made the difference? For the first time, I actually put myself in their shoes.
I thought about my own family going through what they went through… my kids being forced to watch their parents die a tragic, horrifying death right before their eyes. I could see tears of pain streaming down their faces as they reached out for us in terror and helplessness.
I thought of how tragic it would be for their innocent little bodies to be so badly burned–to stumble through the streets with no food or water, and no one to care if they lived or died.
I saw the light in their eyes grow dim from the heartache of it all.
And then it hit me… their children were no less innocent than my own.
I was distraught that not only had my own country caused this death and destruction, but that up until that point in my life I had simply believed it was a “good thing” because it “ended the war”. At least, that’s what I’d always been taught to think. I bought into the notion that it was a “necessary evil” for the “greater good” (meaning it’s somehow ok to commit evil for the sake of good, or that the ends justify the means).
But are we really so sure we have God’s favor in deciding to take another man’s life, regardless of what he has or hasn’t done? I’m having a hard time finding that one in the new covenant of Christ…
“‘You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…‘“
- Matthew 5:43-44 (ESV)
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.“
- Romans 12:14-21 (ESV)
Lately I’ve been coming to understand that the proper way to understand Scripture is to just take it at face-value. It seems that when God writes a Book, He says what He means and means what He says. Just because we have a hard time coming to grips with it in our human understanding, that doesn’t mean we should cast it aside altogether.
So how does one make the leap from “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” to “Take matters into your own hands and kill them before they kill you“?
I believe this happens when we put our faith in the wisdom of man instead of the wisdom of God. It’s an easy thing to do, because if we’re not fully engaged in the spiritual battle that is being waged over the souls of men, we lose sight of the fact that God has called us to something much greater than self-preservation. He has called us to live or die for His sake, making disciples of all nations and building His Heavenly Kingdom of which there is no end. What higher calling is there than that?
“For I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.“
- Philippians 1:19-21 (ESV)
“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?‘”
- Matthew 16:24-26 (ESV)
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.“
- 2 Peter 3:9 (ESV)
So the question we have to ask ourselves is… Does God love “the enemy” any less than He loves us? Does He desire for them to be saved any less than He wants us to be saved? Is any man–no matter how egregious his sin–beyond the power of Christ to save, heal, and forgive? If the answer is “no“, then how can we possibly justify taking their lives, for any reason whatsoever, when there’s still a chance they might come to know Him?
There is indeed an enemy in our midst… we just need to be clear on who that enemy is.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.“
- Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)
Many thanks to Derek and Sharon Gilbert of P.I.D. Radio for discussing this issue when no one else in the news media would even go near it…
Show: P.I.D. Radio
Full Podcast: P.I.D. Radio 8/6/09: Plagues, Protests, and PROMIS
Hosts: Derek Gilbert, Sharon Gilbert
Topics: The documentary White Light, Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; The aftermath of the bombings; Entire world changed in an instant; Incredible loss of life; Radiation “disease”; Do we really know what it means to “nuke” another country?; Bombing occurred on the 33rd parallel by a 33rd degree Freemason (Harry Truman)
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