Gladiator is one of my favorite movies. It’s a classic- Russell Crowe in all his ancient-Roman glory, taking on the evil Emperor in an ill-fated, yet heroic attempt to restore Rome to a Republic. There is one scene at the beginning, before he starts on his epic misadventure, which has always stuck with me. Right before he leads his troops into battle, he motivates them with this statement:
“What we do in life echoes in eternity”
What we do in this life, what we say and think and feel, how we treat others, what we value- all of these have echoes that will go beyond this world into eternity.
In light of the recent turmoil our world has seen, it is important to do a bit of self-examination towards our attitudes, opinions, and how we have let social media become an outlet for those without putting them through a needed thoughtful contemplation.
I do not want to get into a political discussion or a legal analysis on the threat of radical Islam or whether or not America has the resources to take care of refugees, and especially not how GOP candidates are responding to the refugee crisis. All this is subterfuge and distracts from the root problem of the various responses to recent world events- that we are fear the unknown.
I also don’t pretend to be an expert in theology or social behavior- these are just my observations and what I believe my reaction should be as a Christ-follower.
1) Engaging in petty internet debates never truly solves anything except to keep the makers of high blood pressure drugs in business. It’s incredible the callousness and mean-spiritedness that comes to the surface from behind the safety of a computer screen. An argument online incites anger, hostility, and divides people from coming to reasonable solutions.
I can still remember my mom saying Proverbs 15:1 to us kids after many hurtful fights, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
People in general, but ESPECIALLY Christians, need to keep this in mind. The church must remember we are one body and the body never accomplishes anything if it is constantly tearing itself apart.
2) Jesus loved people. He cared for them, healed them, taught them, and showed them unconditional love. He did this for the Jew, the Gentile, the slave, the free man, for women and children, and people of different religions. 1 John 4:7 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”
This does not mean compromise your beliefs, become tolerant of sin, or throw out common sense. After all, Jesus told us to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Mat. 10:16) and told the woman condemned of adultery to “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11). But He also forgave her and showed her the merciful love of God.
His love is unconditional. So should ours be.
No matter where people come from, what their beliefs are, or what they have done in the past, they are made in the image of God. His heart breaks for the broken and lost. So should our hearts be broken for those who are suffering.
We don’t need to judge harshly those with different beliefs or backgrounds or circumstances because we aren’t qualified to do so. Only God is the final judge and jury. We need to show them the love of God.
3) Finally, as a Christian, I need to get active and DO SOMETHING! I love the Matthew West song that says just that:
“I’m so tired of talking about
But it’s easier to say than to be
Live like angels of apathy
Who tell ourselves it’s alright,
Somebody else will do something.”
God created us to be His hands and feet on this earth. To bring in His harvest. To be fishers of men. To go and make disciples of all nations. To care for the widow and the orphan.
Paul writes in Ephesians 6:10-18 to put on the full armor of God, “so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand… And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
Personally, I am very limited in what I can do right now. I’m still in school. I’m in thousands of dollars of debt to pay for said schooling. I have no great evangelism skills. I can’t provide a home for the homeless, food for the hungry, or safety for the refugees.
“Rejoice always, PRAY WITHOUT CEASING, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thess. 5:16-18)
There is supernatural power when we call upon the name of Jesus in prayer.
So Pray- pray for those lost in Paris, pray for the refugees, pray for the families of close to 1,000 Nigerians who have been murdered by Boko Haram since May. Pray for those hurting around the world because human suffering is not unique to only one country or people group.
Writing this now, my heart is full and tears are burning in my eyes when I contemplate all the heartache, tragedy, and senseless violence that is so commonplace in our world today. It’s not fair. It’s not fair that I can sit here in my apartment, safe and warm with a Christmas candle burning watching the snow fall outside, when across an ocean, a family is wondering whether they will live to see the next dawn or that a mother is pushing aside hunger pangs because she is giving what little food she has to her children. It’s not fair that people who went out last Friday night never came home because of a calculated and brutal terrorist attack. Life is not fair.
But what we do with the unfairness that life hands us echoes in eternity.
How we respond to tragedy and how we treat our fellow human beings will have eternal consequences.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
Truly I say to you, as you did it for one of the least of these, you did it to me.
You want your life to make echoes throughout eternity?
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second [commandment] is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)
Think before you speak. Love our fellow man. Take an active role in the Great Commission, with prayer being your #1 go-to option for whatever you face in life.
Love the Lord your God and Love your neighbor as yourself.
What we do in life echoes in eternity.
The road goes ever on,
P.S. Here’s the link to a blog I read earlier this week. It’s a thought-provoking article about the situation with the Syrian refugee crisis.