Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Who is my enemy?

My eldest daughter had her arm broken, accidentally, by a friend at kindergarten on monday.  As we were in the hospital waiting for her arm to be reset, she told me, "when my arm is better I will push Anna (not real name) over."  To a three year old reciprocal violence is a natural instinct.  Of course she wants to do back to Anna what she did to her.  Through an act of violence with unintended consequences Anna has become my daughter's enemy.
[pic from here]
Jesus decisively redefined the concept of "neighbour" in his parable of the good Samaritan, effectively ruling out the dividing walls of society, culture, religion and race from the decision as to what members of the human race we should "love as ourselves."  Hence we are compelled to love our human enemy and not hate them.  But with this recent talk of vengance we seem to be left with a applicational vacuum.  If hate of humans is dissallowed then how can I read (for example) Psalm 137 without missing bits out?  How can baby bashing be words that I sing and pray without denying the command of Christ?  Frankly all that talk of "the psalms teach us to be honest to God about our feelings" doesn't cut it.  Feelings of anti-human anger and revenge are simply dissallowed for those indwelt by the Spirit of Christ.

Well, having a daughter with a broken arm has caused me to reflect on a friend of mine who has had two heavily disabled children, one of whom died after years of painful struggle.  I have heard him talk on more than one occasion about living with extreme suffering and disability.  One of the things he says the struggle has taught him is a hatred of sin.  For my friend sin is not merely the naughty things that we get up to when we think God isn't looking, but the reason that disability, suffering and death entered this world.  His experience of suffering has taught him to hate.  It is a hate I wish more Christians shared.  Sadly the church is better known for its sinful hatred of humans under the influence of sin than for its aggression in leading a life free from sin.

I don't want my daughter to hate Anna, or repay her.  I want her to hate the reason she got pushed in the first place.  The fact that they were fighting over a toy instead of sharing.  The fact that greed and not love was motivating them both at the time.  My daughter's enemy is not Anna.  Her arm was broken by sin.

If we need to hate something to particpate in the psalms, may I suggest one answer might be to hate sin, the sin that is at work in our lives and everyday causes us to hurt those we are commanded to love and frustrates us in our desire to draw near to God.  "Happy is the one who smashes the offspring of sin against the rocks, who destroys sin's work in their own life and frustates its propagation, who cuts sin off in its prime and annihilates it with the love of God in Christ."

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this post (besides the fact that it makes me dread the day when one of my children first ends up with a broken limb).

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