MATTHEW 5:43 AND 44

Verse 43″You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ Verse 44″But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,…”

I purposely stayed away from social media and television programs like Face the Nation before going to church this past Sunday. For the previous few weeks I did not avoid them and found it impossible to focus on my minister’s message because of the venom and hatred that I felt was being spewed by political figures on one venue and friends and acquaintances on another. I did pray for their eternal souls…and mine for what I was thinking about them. What was this week’s message? Matthew Chapter 5. Well, I am sure that Christians everywhere, dead and alive, are rejoicing over the fact that I paid attention…even if it was just a little.

It would seem that many of us who claim to be Christians, and being full of Christian generosity, have Matthew 5:43 down pat. “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy?” I would say that would be an Old Testament influence, the old “eye for an eye,” a notion that we have learned well. It is Verse 44 that seems to be problematic for me, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you….” I am also having trouble with my grandmother’s favorite, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Yes! I say and think bad things about those people who are out to persecute me – the guy who cuts me off or takes my gas pump when I am signaling…or not; conservatives who call liberals names and liberals who call conservatives names; Christians versus gays; and Christians who post disparaging pictures and untrue statements about our president. Though these disrespectful posts are not actually persecuting me, they really hurt because we react negatively and we are people who are supposed to be Christians! You know…”Turn the other cheek” and “Love thine enemy.”

Before I really start I want to dispel any preconceived notions. I AM NOT A DEMOCRAT OR A LIBERAL…and I AM NOT A REPUBLICAN OR A CONSERVATIVE! If you must put a tag on me I will admit to being a PEDESTRIAN on occasion. My voting record includes both Democrat and Republican, as well as, various third party candidates. I vote with what I consider to be a “knowledgeable heart.” I did not vote for President Obama the second time. Despite not voting for him, I STILL cannot believe how we are treating a sitting president…or a non-sitting one.

For example, a picture of President Obama and the First Lady showing them at what was probably an athletic contest was circulated. In this picture, they did not have the most flattering expressions on their faces which seems to be the norm in these types of pictures. An unknown person is holding a photo-shopped banana in front of them with the caption “Mouths ah waterin’” or some such garbage. Why didn’t you go ahead and go the extra yard with a piece of watermelon? In another, before he was President, movie star Ronnie Reagan is holding President Obama and feeding him a bottle in a “Breakfast with Bonzo” parody. Really? A biracial president portrayed as a monkey. I would say someone’s racist petticoats are showing. The worst, by far, is a nude, cracked-out woman portrayed as President Obama’s mother. Any pictures of Barbara Bush circulating? All were shared by people who claim to be Christians exercising their First Amendment rights. I’m trying not to judge you, according to the Bible that is not my right. Rest assured you will be judged and your sins will be found out! And while I’m at it, do you really think the President and First Lady are going to put the wrong hand over their heart during the National Anthem…on purpose? How stupid do people think we are? Stupid because we keep sharing! Is that judging?

The following is not a rant about whether or not homosexuality is a sin or not. That is not for me to judge. If it is a sin they will have to answer for that at a later date…just like I will have to answer for two divorces. I do not understand why, if another group of people are given their civil rights, we “moan and dress in sackcloth and ashes” claiming that we are losing our rights. I honestly do not understand how gays having a right to a civil union would have any effect on my religion, my marriage…or my rights. People have tried to play it off as the Supreme Court overstepping their bounds or attacks on Christian beliefs. I believe, however, that deep down in my heart there is hate, the same kind of hate expressed by people when the Supreme Court overturned Plessy for Brown and when interracial marriage first became legal. There are others who could care less, they just don’t like being told what they have to do. Yes, the far left is pushing and the far right is digging in.

While I am offending everyone, I don’t believe Mike Huckabee meant his Dred Scott comment the way it came out but then again I believe that extraterrestrials are out there and that Santa Claus lives at the North Pole. My point is that calling our enemies names is NOT an act of love, something repeatedly taught by Jesus Christ. It also doesn’t take much intelligence. Huckabee does have a right to his own opinion. Stating why his position is incorrect is one thing, but saying that “What do you expect? He is from Arkansas” or dismissing it as the babblings of the far right is a very different matter. It is disrespectful to a bunch of folks who do know what is going on. Back on point, if my church makes the decision to allow gay marriages, it is a problem between myself and my church. If my church decides not to allow them, then it’s no one else’s business. I have heard my gay friends called abominations, which is actually a misquote of what maybe a Biblical misquote. God makes no mistakes but Biblical translators may have misinterpreted a few passages. I heard Kim Davis referred to in the same way…and many more equally unflattering terms. Name calling is as wrong as the position she has taken! If you are a Christian, it is not very Christ-like to say your neighbor is an abomination…or your enemy according to Jesus. According to Jesus’s own words, we should be praying for them.

Did you know that the pictures of gays desecrating the Christian Flag took place at a festival over two years ago…in Buenos Aires? It circulated as though it was happening today in the good ole United States. Did you know that desecrating the flag of the United States is perfectly legal according to the oft-quoted First Amendment? I find both to be disgusting but that’s not the point. We should be praying for the people who create and post these and other vile pictures and hateful comments. These people are so extremely left or right that they are not only our enemies, but also, enemies of our country and our government. Some even want to start a revolution, and not a quiet one. I must say that at times the United States has been its own worst enemy and an evil one at that. Despite these downfalls, I for one, would rather deal with a known enemy than with an unknown enemy, especially if it is one I love. Therefore, I will pray for our neighbors and our enemies – both foreign and domestic. You might want to try praying for them, too. Ask to remind them that we are supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves. And who is our neighbor, anyone who walks upon the Earth.

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