Today achievement turned to tragedy in the blink of an eye, as two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston marathon. As I write this, the identity of the bomber is not known, but it appears to be an act of terrorism, whether international or domestic remains to be seen. It was encouraging to see so many people on the scene jump into action helping the wounded and to read so many prayers offered up on social media for the well-being, protection, and comfort of those affected by the day’s events.
But I have also read and heard a good deal of talk – and even prayers – that are anything but encouraging. We seem to have to a place culturally where every event becomes an almost instant launching point for a tirade. Prayers for justice spoken so angrily that they are really just thinly veiled prayers for vengeance. Complaints about security measures taken in the wake of the bombings. Even nasty comments about assumed attackers. All of this is quite disheartening because such talk does what no terrorist could ever do – it unleashes a destructive force within our own selves, we bomb our own souls.
And it’s not like we accept that self-inflicted damage for some greater good. Tirades about terrorists, revenge, Obama (!?!), etc. – what do they accomplish? That ugly Facebook post, what does it achieve? The snarky tweet, how does it help anyone in any way? You might say, ‘well it helps me vent,’ but it does just the opposite. You aren’t letting off steam in those moments. You are inhaling poison of your own making.
Jesus told us to love our enemies. Not as a suggestion. Or a platitude. As a command. A command he expects his followers to keep. Love always takes a great deal of discipline, consistent practice, a strong commitment. It takes even more of all that to love the enemy. In keeping Jesus’ command, we participate in the healing and strengthening of our souls. The command is as much for our sake as it is the enemy’s (though it is for his too).
Love conquers fear – if we choose love over fear. Let us choose love. Let us guard our hearts. Let us govern our thoughts. Let us discipline our speech. Let us practice loving the enemy through how we think, how we talk, how we pray, even how we engage in social media. There is enough damage without us damaging souls as well. We can participate in tearing down or in building up, but we can’t do both. And which ever we’re doing, we are doing primarily to ourselves. Don’t bomb your own soul. Nourish it with love.