Putting Away My Sword

Some days are easier to practice the example and the teachings of Christ than others. 9-11 is not one of those days. In the midst of remembering those who died in the attack on the twin towers, remembering those firemen who put themselves between life and death – sometimes at the cost of their own lives – and remembering those who have been sent into harm’s way in the wake of the attack, it’s difficult to avoid feelings of vindictiveness and rage toward those who could be responsible for such a horrible event in any way.

Knowing we would all have events that make us feel this way, Jesus still said:

“You have heard it said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ I tell you not to resist the evil person. Whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other to him. If anyone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak also. Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two…”

-Matthew 5:38-41

“You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ I say to you, love your enemies; bless those who curse you; do good to those who hate you; pray for those who spite you and persecute you – that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven…For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even tax collectors do the same? If you greet your friends only, what do you do more than others…?”

-Matthew 5:43-47

If we are trying to be Christ-like, we purge our minds of anger and malice. Remember what Paul writes in Romans 5:10 – that while we were enemies to God, He paid the price for our iniquity. We strive to be holy as our Creator is holy (I Peter 1:15-16), and God is love (I John 4:7-11).

II Timothy 2:22 counts peace as a quality we should pursue, and Jesus blesses those He calls peacemakers in Matthew 5:9. At times, we may feel like the martyred saints in Revelation 6:9 who ask, “How long…until You avenge our blood?” God’s only answer to them is to rest and wait for God’s time. We are the same. We are those described in Isaiah 2:2-4 who “beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.”

Remember that only one of Christ’s followers ever seeks violent retribution in the New Testament. In Matthew 26:51-53, one apostle cuts the ear off one who has come to crucify Christ. Jesus rebukes him, and, according to Luke 22:50-51, heals the injured man – a man who had come to haul Jesus off to His death. Likewise, I must be willing to put my own sword away, looking instead to the example set by my Savior.

Today will probably always be a day of complicated emotions for those who lived to see the towers fall. As I Peter 2:1 says, though, let us lay aside “all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speech,” and instead let us dwell on the good things of meditate on those pure things of Philippians 4:8 – those things that are pure, just, holy. Let us remember that Christ died for all ungodly people, even the ones we don’t like, and we should reflect His love in every aspect of our lives.