Updated: Feb 4
Jesus said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34, NIV)
He also said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17, NIV)
When asked what Commandment was most to be observed, Jesus said (quoting from Deuteronomy 6:5), “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27, but similarly in Matthew 22:37 – NIV)
For anyone who has every read the Old Testament, the Israelites fell into a never-ending cycle of obey the Commandments and then try to bend the Commandments to meet their needs. Obeying the Commandments meant peace, happiness and prosperity. Disobeying the Commandments meant struggle, sadness and persecution.
If one recalls, there was a special deal between YAHWEH, the One God, and the descendants of Abraham, through Isaac, then Jacob, the ones who found themselves in large numbers in Egypt. God sent Moses to free those people, so He could groom them to be His people. Thus, the Covenant was etched in stone (plus words written down and/or memorized), as a specific agreement between God and one fairly small group of people (when compared to the whole human bodies count in the world). In other words, God never made any agreements with anyone other than the “Children of Israel.”
When one reads the Old Testament, one catches a glimpse of a serious God, one who is there to support the faithful, but who is “Woe is me” whenever His people try to be like other human beings on the planet, those who have no agreement with God. That always gets them in trouble, because as soon as they start loving their pagan neighbors as if their pagan neighbors have a pact with God also, the pagan neighbors punish the children of Israel for thinking they are better than anyone else.
That punishment always sent the Israelites back to the altar, praying out to their God, “We are SOOOOOO sorry for our mistakes against you!” (Remember the televangelist Jimmy Swaggert?) “Please help us LORD! Please forgive us!” they would always pray.
Well, God listened and not once did He say in response to a prayer of redemption, “Look. Those people rubbing the filth of sin in your face are my creations, just like you. Get back out there and love them.” Nope. God told them how to smite the wicked. God told His children how to kill those turning them away from God, because God’s agreement was with His only chosen faithful priests: the Israelites.
Again, if you have read the Old Testament, then you know God did not have the Israelites go out and capture the enemy and put them in comfy prison camps and hope they would change their evil ways, after years of return punishment. Nope. God had them all killed.
Now, you have to realize that God is the one who gave life to everyone He had the Israelites kill. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, the dead returned to dirt and clay, but their souls – all extensions of the One God – were unharmed. They all went back to God, had a nice chat, looking at what they had done right, and what they had done wrong, before God sent them back to earth. I imagine God said, “Go little children. Try to find your way to becoming one of my priests, rather than trying to smear the dirt of sin on them.”
I recall the movie The Green Mile, adapted from a serial of books by Stephen King. My wife always reminds me of the quote from the character John Coffey, who is on death row for the murder of two young girls. The real killer “killed them with their love,” said Coffey, who then added, “That’s how it is every day, all over the world.” The girls kept quiet to save their parents from harm, because the killer threatened to harm them, if the girls made a noise.
While that makes a statement about self-sacrifice, in the name of love, which is what Christians love to see as the ultimate display of following the model of Jesus Christ, it misses the point of how a sinful world uses that aspect of “love” to persecute God’s faithful. When everyone remembers “He killed them with their love,” and not how he said, “that’s how it is every day, all over the world,” then people miss how love is a stick by which to beat Christians, used by pagans. Love is then the reason the faithful are led away from the Covenant, trying to love their neighbor pagans as if they were God’s children.
They are not. They are God’s creations (souls within being alive, with free will), but they are not God’s children.
A neighbor to a Christian is another Christian. You are to love them as you love yourself, which means you know you are the model of Christ that a Christian is supposed to be. That love, from time to time, will have you help your neighbor, to the point of caring, healing, praying, feeding, clothing, or even scolding, all of which you would expect to be given to you in return, as a neighbor in Christ, a child of God.
You love everyone else in the world by giving them their space to be whatever it is they want to be. You want the right to be a Christian, so you show love by honoring their desire to not be a Christian, by not trying to save them, and certainly by not trying to be like them. If, however, your space intermingles with the space occupied by pagans (as was the case with ancient Israel), then take care of your own and stop trying to cause problems. However, if they cause a problem for you, pray to God for His help. If you are truly filled with His Holy Spirit, you will ACT accordingly.
Unfortunately, at this late stage in human development, where there is very little true Christianity left in the world. Christians are left to fend for themselves like the two little girls who were murdered in that Stephen King novel. We are asked to stand quiet as we are persecuted for the failures of our parents, so their memories won’t be damaged as we sacrifice our lives. We have to understand that it is better to do nothing and die, than it is to die fighting for what is right. We are beat to death by our misunderstanding of love; but when our soul flies off to meet with God (yet again), you have to ask yourself, “Will I be sent back to fight evil, due to my failure to fight it in this now past life? Or, will God just let me stay there, so He can send in the comet of doom?”
Jesus came to point out how thinking you are special is pointless if you are not truly dedicated to the One God. You have to cease being all about you and start being all about what God wants you to be. Jesus “loved” the temple priests, Sadducees, and Pharisees by telling them how wrong they were. They did not “feel the love.” Jesus told the Romans, Greeks, Samaritans and gentiles that he did not come for them, so he never “showed them the love.” Still, Jesus said, “Once you have the love God with all your heart part down, then you can begin to love your neighbor as yourself.”
That concept worked perfectly, as long as there were true Apostles, who spread that true source of love to others. It works perfectly in a communal setting, where everyone within the community was one the same page: they all loved God with all their hearts, meaning they could then love their Christian neighbors in kind. The classic example of this communal setting was established in Southern France, in the people called Cathars (not a name they gave themselves, but by others, with their name rooted in the Greek word “katharos,” meaning “pure.”) They were “pure” Christians.
I recommend you look them up and learn what they represented as “Good men” (“Bon homes”). I warn you, you may not think they were true Christians, simply because there are so few true Christians around today, it is hard to get past the indoctrination that causes us to be more pagan and reject those “Christians” not like us. Still, the Cathar way of existence was all about how to “Love God with all your heart and love you neighbor as yourself.”
They understood how hard life was supposed to be. They worked hard and supported one another. The result was they were respected for staying to themselves, while welcoming visitor in and discussing their beliefs. Conversion of the pagans came from them being a candle of light to which the moths were attracted. It was the Crusades that gave birth to sending knights with swords to kill anyone who was not Christian, forcing everyone to claim Christ as their king, without ever being told anything more.
The Roman Catholic Church felt jealous of the Cathars and had the vast majority of them slaughtered in their first wave of genocidal Inquisitions (called the Albigensian Crusade). Christianity has been on the down slide since then (since roughly the year 1300 AD). That is why Roman Catholic priests have been “killing Christians with their love” since the 20th century found (as the New York Times reported) God is as dead as is His Church. The modern branches of a dead tree have become the latest edition of the same “false shepherds” that caused God to send Jesus two millennia ago. They have been transformed by their “love” of pagan neighbors (their philosophies), more than their love of God and loving Christians by showing them how to be filled with the Holy Spirit.