My short devotional reading this morning was titled Run Away. In it, a woman told of studying Aikido and her surprise in her introductory lesson when the sensei told the class that, when approached by an attacker, the first response, the best response, is always to run away. She had the same reaction I did: Huh? Isn’t this a fighting class? Aren’t we learning how to thrust our fist into a grown man’s chest and pull out his beating heart? Run away? She moved from this confusion to a deeper one: the upside-down kingdom of Jesus where we love our enemies and return evil with kindness. It’s the world where Peter had the same reaction I would and cut off the ear of the guard going for Jesus. But Jesus – knowing what lies ahead and thinking of me – reached out and touched the man’s bleeding head to restore his ear. This is an upside-down love that I don’t understand.
It’s a hard pill for me to swallow this morning.
I sat with much of America last evening and watched reports about another mass shooting at an elementary school. Another. How many now? One is too many. Two are unconscionable.
The criminal, a crazed eighteen-year-old male, is said to have purchased two assault-style rifles a week ago and 375 rounds. How is this legal? Before going to the school to start his killing spree, he stopped by Grandma’s to shoot her first. Maybe she didn’t make his eggs the way he liked them? I don’t know. I watched and thought the only justice for this man is to soak him in honey and drop him on a huge ant pile on live TV and watch him die for over three weeks. I’d have a party, I thought.
I’m not sure how to match the upside-down world with the one I live in where profit, celebrity, and shouting are measures of success. I do think, though, that we all get what we deserve unless we have faith. With faith, we get exactly what we don’t deserve: love, forgiveness, restoration, and fulfillment. I don’t know what we really deserve – being another log for an eternal fire seems the easy way out – but I often wonder if hell is living with the realization that we rejected the love of G and live, instead, alone with our fears, meanness, and selfishness in the light of G’s bright light.