A short yearly reflection

Have you ever had a song stuck in your head nonstop? Has it been Taylor’s Swift’s song two to three years ago, Shake it Off, “Haters gonna hate, hate, hate. Baby, I am going to shake it off.” Yes, I know I did not finish the whole lyrics because you now remember that nice beat in your head. Your welcome! Well there is a song that has been embedded in my head for the past month by the band The Brilliance called “Brother” it does not matter which version it is. They have one with the rapper, Propaganda, in it and another one with just them singing. No matter what, the chorus has been stuck in my head all the time, “When I look into the face of my enemy I see my brother.” Such a powerful statement and so true with this crazy election climate that came to pass.

Everywhere I looked on my Facebook, the year 2016 has been my least favorite year to be alive and that is the truth. I struggled throughout this year every day I kept praying, “Please Lord Jesus come back!” Which should be our prayer daily anyways but so many of us have forgotten that. But one thing I have learned this semester, is the power of looking into an enemy’s eyes. This song makes me picture a really good friend of mine that I communicate once a week with now through skype he lives in Iran and he is a Muslim.

My feelings on September 11, 2001 was, “Okay why are these grownups crying? Or why is this man actually crying about a little explosion?” I was in the fourth grade when the world trade centers were hit. But what I can tell you from that day all I could hear is Muslims are the enemies they attacked us. Iran, Iraq, and the rest of the Middle East are evil Muslims except for Israel they are good.

I say all this because this semester I am taking a class on the Parables and shew this class like all of my other intensive study courses on certain parts of the Bible has challenged me. Matthew’s gospel and the Sermon on the Mount has been running through my head the past two years. The one line states, “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 (Matt 5:43-44 NIV). But when thinking of that I am seeing the Great Obligation found at the end of Matthew’s gospel not the Great Commission, I no longer like that term but the Great Obligation that means all disciples of Jesus are meant to do this (Matt. 28:18-20).

If we look at the Sermon on the Mount and the Great Obligation, we see that others will recognize us by our love. Like I said, weekly I am looking at the face of someone I was told to hate by just having a conversation with them. I look at my friend straight in the eyes and we just talk. We both love philosophy and love to chat about world politics, but he is my brother. I have grown such a love for an enemy just by reaching out and talking to him.

Here recently, we were talking about him helping with me with a presentation that I was going to present on a certain Parable. I totally forgot to send him information and his remark was, “You forgot to send me that information. I want to hear the way you presented but I want to learn more about that Parable and what it means.” After the conversation I ran to my wife and just started crying and saying, “Chas, I am being a missionary right now which my dream. We are doing ESL with refugees through our church building, doing an internship with Richmond Justice Initiative, an organization that helps against human trafficking, and also talking to my Muslim friend weekly in Iran. Why me, the ex-atheist who hated God? Why me!?”

Nothing is better than reaching out and showing God’s love to others. What I can tell you right now is that this has been a journey for me and a busy one. I have never been this busy in my life. I am currently working on presentation and exegetical paper on the parable of the Friend at Midnight. Jesus in his explanation my paraphrase, says keep pushing, keep asking, and eventually God will give what you asked for. But through the Holy Spirit God will give you more” (Matt 11:5-14). This is so true in my life right now because I am looking at the eyes of someone I am supposed to hate, but it is one of the highlights of my week to be able to talk to him. All I can see is now my brother.  Are you willing to reach out and embrace an enemy and look at them in their eyes?

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