Memorial Day is a time when we remember those who sacrificed their life to protect our freedoms. But, as I reflect on those who have sacrificed for me, I can’t help but include Jesus.
As I reflect on the life of Jesus I can’t help but recognize the war he was involved in. It was war that feels all too familiar. But, Jesus fought his war in an unconventional way.
Jesus was a part of an ideological war – much like what we see today. The Jews were having their own “culture war” with the Romans. But, unlike the Jews (and to their shock) Jesus’ war was not with the Romans. His war was not with the “sinners” or “pagans”. It was not with the tax collectors the prostitutes or the government. In fact, he ate with those people. He healed those people.
No, his war was with his own people. The religious elite of the day who desperately wanted to overthrow the Roman government and re-establish themselves as a political powerhouse.
Although there is much that could be discussed about the battles that took place throughout Israel between Jesus and the religious leaders my reflection is specific to how he fought. Unlike today he did not use his words as weapons of hate, but as a means to promote love.
You see “God’s Word” was often used by the Jewish religious leaders to justify the oppression of others. But…Jesus called that person a “white-washed tomb” and “hypocrite”. Why? Because Jewish leaders failed to embody what they believed. Their “faith” had become a political ideology where the “Word” was their source of power and authority. However, what they failed to understand is that when scripture is used this way it is no longer the “Word”. It is no longer from God. And, therefore, it is no longer authoritative.
Jesus did not declare war against his culture – even though they had declared war against him. And when his followers picked up their weapons; he demanded they put them away for the sake of peace. When he had the chance to defend himself; he did not go into a long metaphysical diatribe defending the “Truth”. He did not demand of Pilate his rights – though the Jews certainly did. The only evidence of his innocence was his life; and his life demonstrated that what he said was true.
Love is not an idea – it is a command. Jesus proved this through his willingness to sacrifice himself for those who did not deserve it. Those who persecuted him. Those who opposed him in every way. Those are the people he sacrificed for. I am one of those people.
On this Memorial Day, I can’t help but think about that sacrifice. That I was (and still am) a sinner, doing my best to honor God by the way I live, which is to love others unconditionally no matter who they are or what they have done. God’s love is “unconditional” and so should mine.