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How Far Do We Go?
By : Richard Lawton (from the US)
Rating : Average Rating : 9.75 From 4 Voter(s)
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Jesus told us to love our enemies, but does that mean we should speak to them? Or listen to them? Here in USA, the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has been likened to a monster, Hitler, a madman, bent on destroying Israel and USA. Some predict USA will be at war with Iran by January (would that include Australia?), although President Bush denies it. Recently, President Ahmadinejad spoke to the annual assembly of the UN, which is housed in New York City. Some Americans were so outraged they suggested the meeting should be held in Europe, anywhere but here.

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Comments / Feedback
Keith Skillicorn
Hi Richard, thanks again. You ask the question - "How far do we go in forgiving and loving Koranic Terrorists? For those of us who have decided to follow Jesus, we have only one choice. Although the answer is very simple, it is also rather frightening because we have to go ALL the way. "Agape" Love does not mean that we have to "like" the Terrorist or even talk to him. It means sacrificially yearning for his welfare - for the Very Best he could ever wish for. For us, going ALL the way means going even to the CROSS. (Colossians 1:24)
Keith Skillicorn
I am sorry that Michael has taken issue with my "misunderstanding" of the meaning of the Greek word "Agape". Actually, this is the word that makes our Christian Faith absolutely unique among all the concepts of the nature of God. However, this rich word is also the "stumbling-block" (1 Cor. 1:23) that sets us apart. Other beliefs are not slow in using the Platonic word for "love" - "Philos" (philosophy) and even the sexy "Eros" (erotic) but it is only in Christian Love (Agape) that we have to go beyond these lesser concepts - to Calvary - ALL the way. In Bangladesh we were not even allowed to "talk" religion to our Muslim friends but "Agape" love enabled us to empathise with them in a very personal involvement - "incarnate encounter" - far BEYOND merely "liking" our friends. Without the "Cross" in our daily relationships with people, the Christian Faith is just like any other religion.
Michael Bullard
thanks richard for that article.
i take issue with keith's response - "agape does not mean we have to like or talk to a terrorist." Is that really the agape of the NT? The phrase "sacrificially yearning for his welfare" seems to be just pious cliche if we're not liking or talking to someone. You can do it without personal involvement. What does "going to the Cross" mean if I don't have to talk to or like someone?
Does that sort of agape reflect God's agape? I think we've developed christian theologies that insulate us from the NT commands. Give the abuse of the word "love" around the place - I actually think it's more powerful to use the word "like" as a translation of agape. God loves me? Well, he's God he has to - it can be a cold - non-personal thing. But to say that God likes me. Wow - that's powerful. That implies a desire for connection and relationship - a positive regard for me. I'll give up my life for that.
It's not just semantics - I really believe the word "like" as is used in today's world is actually more powerful than the word "love."
It was agape love that the centurion had for the community in Luke 7. He put it into action, building them a synagogue. A Roman army officer building a synagogue for his community? That's agape love.
Compare that to the conversation between Jesus and Peter in John 21. Twice Jesus asks Peter if he agape loves him, Peter responds that of course, he phileo (brotherly) loves Jesus. The third time, Jesus changes the question to ask if Peter phileo loves him. Jesus told Peter to feed his sheep: love without action is nothing; faith without works is nothing.
Jesus said the greatest commandments are to love God, and love your neighbour as yourself. I don't see any conditions on who the 'neighbours' might be.
Life in this world is not easy as we have many things that are before us that are not easy and many things that confuse us because we have few examples to follow. Sure we may well say we should follow Christ in all that we do but in the recorded words of his 3 years there was no dealing with so many issues that we find confronting us today. As we look to the history of the church we find a blur of extremely poor behaviour and the examples we are to follow are few and far between. If we take the example of the abolition of slavery, should we entice our opponents to be absent for an important vote to gain the upper hand? On the other hand should we not resist the raping and pillaging of the 'vulnerable'? Can there be a just cause to go to war for? Does the principle of God's love mean to never resist? Jesus once with a whip cleared the traders from the temple and I guess perhaps some may have be struck by the whip. What does this mean for us today? Is our journey a partnership with Christ that may put us at odds with our brothers and sisters in Christ? Can two Christians be on different sides of a conflict and both be right at the same time? These are hard questions and the answer is one that is eternal in nature but as it hits our lives I believe we all can draw different conclusions and be right and even draw different conclusions at different times of life and still be right. Our life of faith evolves unless it is dead, and as we grow so does "the right" responses to situations evolve with the development of our personal faith and journey with Christ

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