Matthew 5: 38-45
I keep thinking of my Jewish tour guide from my trip to Jerusalem, telling me that Israelis and Palestinians live together well, for the most part. He said, "85% of people get along. It's the 15% who mess things up for the rest of us."
During the tour came a moment that proved his point. One of our group members became very nauseous and needed medical attention, but the guide had a large group to show around. So he routed the group to a small restaurant in the Muslim Quarter and left the sick lady in the care of the proprietors. We continued our tour and circled back a couple of hours later. Through the proprietors' care, she was feeling much better.
The guide asked us, "If these Muslims were my enemies, would I take this person in my care and place her in their care? I absolutely trust them. They are my friends."
I keep thinking of this story as Israel and Hamas engage in war. The 15% have gotten their way.
In my latest Top 11 Themes of Jesus podcast, #6 on Love, Mercy, and Service to Others, I review some of Jesus' most famous, most impactful, and even most controversial statements on loving others. One of them was this passage on dealing with enemies and others who oppose you, from Matthew 5: 38-45.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."
Our inclination is to force, or at least persuade, our enemies to change their minds, to see our point of view, to do things our way. How well does this work out? How many people's minds have changed recently because you forcefully presented your point of view?
Jesus takes a different approach. He takes the long view. His recommended method is to love those who oppose you, be gentle and kind, exercise patience, and at some point, your enemy will change because of this loving effect. He points out that our Heavenly Father treats everyone as His children, even our enemies.
Think about how God created the Grand Canyon. He didn't blast it with dynamite. Instead, He carved it with wind, water, and time. His approach was patient and persistent. It took time to get results, but now and then and still, a boulder will loosen and come tumbling down.
That's what Jesus advocates. Patient and persistent love, gentleness, and kindness will change hearts - a result more powerful and lasting than changing minds.
So, I pray for the love of the 85% in Israel and the Gaza Strip to overwhelm the agitating 15% eventually. I pray for the 85% in Ukraine and Russia to bring peace. I pray for the 85% in the United States to end the division and hostility in our country brought about by the 15%.
I pray that we will trust Jesus' formula to bring about love between divided factions. It won't happen right away. But we must trust and persist with relentless love, gentleness, and kindness. Jesus tells us this works. Do you trust Him?
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You can listen to the full podcast on Jesus' theme of love, mercy, and service to others in the following ways: Search for "Cecil Taylor Monthly Podcasts" on Apple, Spotify, and Podbean. Or visit the Cecil Taylor Ministries YouTube Channel. Or visit CecilTaylorMinistries.com/free-content, which contains links to all of the above sites.