“So we find ourselves caught in a messed up world. The problem is with man himself and man’s soul. We haven’t learned how to be Just and Honest and Kind and True and Loving. That is the basis of our problem. The real problem is that through scientific genius we have made the world a neighborhood, but through our moral and spiritual genius we have failed to make it a brotherhood”
– Sun Tzu, The Art of War
It has been exactly one month since two radicalized Muslim Chechnyan-American teenagers, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev and, his brother, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev attacked Bostonians at one of their most sacred events – the Boston Marathon. In the wake of these radical Isalmic terrorist attacks, Bostonians and Americans alike have renewed the conversation over how best to wage the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). In the long marathon of the GWOT, we are not fighting as we should. Like a shadow boxer in the night, we are beating our hands against the wind.
The truth is that we know neither ourselves, nor our enemy, because in order to know both we must intimately know God – YHWH, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We must know the glory of Jesus as the Son of God, the heir and co-ruler with the Father. We must be led by the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity, into all Truth as we renew our minds by meditating on God through the Holy Scriptures. We do not know the compassion that God has for the whole human race in the sacrifice of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, nor do we think often on His command for us to love Him (Deuteronomy 6:4-6), to love our neighbor (Luke 10:25-37), and to love our enemy (Matthew 5:43-48).
As Martin Luther King, Jr. points out above, our scientific genius has outpaced our moral and spiritual genius. We have not given ourselves over to the leading of the Holy Spirit in loving the whole of the human race. We look upon the other, our fellow human brothers, with disdain and with malice. Quoting from Thomas Merton, “No man is an island unto himself”. We are all inextricably connected to one another. Globalization has turned the globe into a neighborhood, but not a brotherhood.
In the midst of being sinned against, the pain is real. In the weeks, months, and years following, the grief of the war torn families is real. Justice is the cry on every human heart. However, as a Christian response to being attacked and sinned against deeply, we must grapple with the following questions:
1) How do we best respond to those that wish us harm?
2) Is it possible to love those that wish us harm?
3) From what strength are we able to love those that wish us harm?
4) How do we fight in a battlespace, a higher spiritual plane, where victory is guaranteed?
5) In the wake of public and personal attacks and afflictions, what is the role of Mercy?
I do not seek to offer glib answers to these vexing questions, but my goal is to provide a resource allowing our minds to slip the surly bonds of earth and climb to the lofty throne of Grace, where Christ sits exalted upon His throne forever and forever. What I offer is not a lack of fighting, but fighting with love – that forgiveness and reconciliation to Christ may abound. Godly Love (agape) does not presuppose the lack of conflict, but the conviction to resolve conflict, no matter the personal cost.
This Biblical Counseling Through Song compilation playlist was created in order for the Body of Christ to meditate richly upon our high calling to not only love God and our neighbors, but to love our enemies as well. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us and beckons us to follow Him – to pray for those who persecute us and those that have sinned against us. This is a wholly unnatural thing to do. It is impossible apart from the rich indwelling Spirit and the Grace of God.
This is a call to meditate and pray according to the ancient Biblical Scriptures. We hope this contemplative prayer playlist creates a space in which the Holy Spirit might bring into fruition in our lives the high calling of Jesus to pray for, and love, our enemies.
We at Biblical Counseling Through Song merely wish to be the connective tissue within the Body of Christ between the artists that are allowing us to richly dwell within the Scriptures and the rest of our Body. You can download below from Noisetrade through the July 7th, 2013.
This playlist serves to unpack some of the mystery of the Mercy of the Gospel and cast our eyes upon the Redeemer who sheds His Mercy upon us.
The “Serving Our Enemies in Prayer: Psalm 46 – Ephesians 6:10-20” playlist was originally developed for a Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) “Summit on Islam” conference at First Presbyterian in Orlando this past January. We re-released in April after the Boston Terror attacks. Essentially the outline is:
1) God is our refuge and strength (Psalm 46)
2) He told us to love Him (Deuteronomy 6:4-6)
3) Love our Neighbor (Mark 12:18-34, Luke 10:25-37)
4) Love our Enemies (Matthew 5:43-48)
5) It’s impossible, apart from His Grace (Psalm 121, Ephesians 6:10-20)
Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God’s new Messiah, offering each the bloom or blight,
Parts the goats upon the left hand, and the sheep upon the right,
And the choice goes by forever ’twixt that darkness and that light.
Hast thou chosen, O my people, on whose party thou shalt stand,
Ere the Doom from its worn sandals shakes the dust against our land?
Though the cause of Evil prosper, yet ’tis Truth alone is strong,
And, albeit she wander outcast now, I see around her throng
Troops of beautiful, tall angels, to enshield her from all wrong…
Careless seems the great Avenger; history’s pages but record,
One death-grapple in the darkness ’twixt old systems and the Word;
Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne,
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.”
– James Russell Lowell, The Present Crisis, 1844
I am a 2003 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, whose prideful aspirations of piloting were humbled by God into becoming a minister and counselor of the Word of God. In revealing Himself, God brought me low. We all live life “Coram Deo”, before the face of God, whether we realize it or not. The Truth is that we need to lower ourselves before His ever mindful gaze.
“Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”
“To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.”
“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
“Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.”
– Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Sun Tzu was pointing towards that fact that the supreme art of war calls for a close embrace of our enemy. We must see the world from their perspective, not ours, and enter into their suffering and offer Christ as the balm to war. Jesus is that Golden Bridge.
To wage the GWOT merely within the battlespaces of Land, Sea, Air, Space, and Cyberspace, is to miss the critical battlespace upon which this battle is being waged – the human heart. The heart, in a Jewish sense, is the inner man and the seat of our cognitions, affections, and volitions. This Higher battlespace of the heart is that of the Spiritual, or Metaphysical. Within this sphere of warfare, prayer of the Word of God is our only offensive weapon. Contemplation of the Scriptures, the Word of God, is the link between the battlespace of Cyberspace (information, philosophy, academia, the media, the arts, etc…) and the Spiritual. It is within this realm of warfare where we are failing to call upon God to war on our behalf.
I am a warrior at heart. I am merely calling us, the Church, to war by other, loftier, means. In effect, Jesus has replaced Sun Tzu as my ultimate teacher in the art of warfare. God has transformed my heart from focusing on the study of “The Art of War” to the “The War of Art”.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction … The chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.
– Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength To Love
If we are to win the GWOT, we must humble ourselves to know and love our enemies well. We offer this musical resource to exegete the Scriptures and see Jesus’s deep call to be ministers of Reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18) and ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) amidst the hatred, commissioning each believer to be a peace maker until He returns.
2 Corinthians 5:16-21, ESV
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
God is our Refuge…the God of Jacob is our Fortress!
In the wake of the recent Boston Terror attacks, we can be left with a foreboding sense of helplessness in our world against enemies and spiritual forces, which are far beyond our control. This is true. We are not in control of this world. If we are honest, we are not even in control of our own lives. However, unknown terrorists, whether foreign or domestic, are not the only agents which can bring an overwhelming sense of fear into our lives. In the brokeness of our fallen world, fear and terror is a dwelling place for far too many. On others days, while in the pit of despair, it might just be taking our next few breaths to get through the day which might instill just as much fear.
When we peer into the mirror of the Scriptures, we see our great insufficiency and God’s great sufficiency in protecting ourselves from our enemies. Let Psalm 46 be our guide:
Psalm 46, ESV
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
The God of Jacob – The way to love, the way to fight…
In the wake of personal abuse or suffering from the sin of another, no matter the type, it is easy to feel the abuser is the real enemy. As the Church, we are to comfort the broken hearted and serve those that have been radically sinned against. It is our calling.
The power from which we are love and engage those which wish us harm is the power of God’s Grace – from the foundation of an ever growing relationship with God Himself.
In our war with radical Islamic terrorism, we are offering the peoples and cultures from which it springs Western, secular democracy to replace Islam. We are offering them “a way to live”, when they are crying out for “a reason to live”. They are simply enslaved and in service to a false God. The jihadic verses from the Koran make that plain.
Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya [poll tax] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (Koran, Sura 9:29)
O ye who believe! fight the unbelievers who gird you about [Pickthal and others: “who are near to you”], and let them find firmness in you: and know that Allah is with those who fear Him. (Koran, Sura 9:123)
Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens. Thus (are ye commanded): but if it had been Allah’s Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); but (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the Way of Allah, – He will never let their deeds be lost.
(Koran, Sura 47:4)
In light of these jihadic passages, we can hear the voice of Jesus say:
Matthew 5:43-48, ESV
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
We are only perfect in our weakness. It is acknowledging our perfect weakness, that we embrace Jesus as our perfect strength. In preaching on this passage in his sermon “Loving Your Enemies” in 1957, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. unpacks the great call of the church to obedience to the call from Jesus. It is the great call from Him to set the captives free.
“Certainly these are great words, words lifted to cosmic proportions. And over the centuries, many persons have argued that this is an extremely difficult command. Many would go so far as to say that it just isn’t possible to move out into the actual practice of this glorious command. They would go on to say that this is just additional proof that Jesus was an impractical idealist who never quite came down to earth. So the arguments abound. But far from being an impractical idealist, Jesus has become the practical realist. The words of this text glitter in our eyes with a new urgency. Far from being the pious injunction of a utopian dreamer, this command is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. Yes, it is love that will save our world and our civilization, love even for enemies.
Now let me hasten to say that Jesus was very serious when he gave this command; he wasn’t playing. He realized that it’s hard to love your enemies. He realized that it’s difficult to love those persons who seek to defeat you, those persons who say evil things about you. He realized that it was painfully hard, pressingly hard. But he wasn’t playing. And we cannot dismiss this passage as just another example of Oriental hyperbole, just a sort of exaggeration to get over the point. This is a basic philosophy of all that we hear coming from the lips of our Master. Because Jesus wasn’t playing; because he was serious. We have the Christian and moral responsibility to seek to discover the meaning of these words, and to discover how we can live out this command, and why we should live by this command.”
As a means of the assurance of salvation, the Koran calls believers to violently lay down their lives to combat the unbeliever for the sake of Allah, whereas the Holy Scriptures’s assurance of salvation for the Christian in Jesus Christ frees us to non-violently lay down our lives for the sake of our enemies.
If Jesus’s battle cry from the cross was “It is finished“, it should be our battle cry. In the end, Love wins. He has already won. We are merely following in His regiment, collecting the spoils of war – the hearts of our brothers and sisters in Christ, who do not yet know they are our brothers and sisters in Him.
Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
– Martin Luther King, Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Stockholm, Sweden, 1964
Love – A Higher Form of Fighting
Love does not presuppose the lack of conflict, but the deep conviction to resolve conflict, no matter the personal cost or sacrifice. Love is saying to the other that a reconciled relationship to you is of greater worth to me than life. We must see Jesus sitting on the tree on that far distant hill for His enemies, including ourselves. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. In Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Loving Our Enemies” sermon:
“The Greek language comes out with another word for love. It is the word agape. And agape is more than eros;agape is more than philia; agape is something of the understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill for all men. It is a love that seeks nothing in return. It is an overflowing love; it’s what theologians would call the love of God working in the lives of men. And when you rise to love on this level, you begin to love men, not because they are likeable, but because God loves them. You look at every man, and you love him because you know God loves him. And he might be the worst person you’ve ever seen…
…There is a power in love that our world has not discovered yet. Jesus discovered it centuries ago. Mahatma Gandhi of India discovered it a few years ago, but most men and most women never discover it. For they believe in hitting for hitting; they believe in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth; they believe in hating for hating; but Jesus comes to us and says, “This isn’t the way.”…
…As we look out across the years and across the generations, let us develop and move right here. We must discover the power of love, the power, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that we will be able to make of this old world a new world. We will be able to make men better. Love is the only way. Jesus discovered that…
…And our civilization must discover that. Individuals must discover that as they deal with other individuals. There is a little tree planted on a little hill and on that tree hangs the most influential character that ever came in this world. But never feel that that tree is a meaningless drama that took place on the stages of history. Oh no, it is a telescope through which we look out into the long vista of eternity, and see the love of God breaking forth into time. It is an eternal reminder to a power-drunk generation that love is the only way. It is an eternal reminder to a generation depending on nuclear and atomic energy, a generation depending on physical violence, that love is the only creative, redemptive, transforming power in the universe.
So this morning, as I look into your eyes, and into the eyes of all of my brothers in Alabama and all over America and over the world, I say to you, “I love you. I would rather die than hate you.” And I’m foolish enough to believe that through the power of this love somewhere, men of the most recalcitrant bent will be transformed. And then we will be in God’s kingdom. We will be able to matriculate into the university of eternal life because we had the power to love our enemies, to bless those persons that cursed us, to even decide to be good to those persons who hated us, and we even prayed for those persons who despitefully used us.
Oh God, help us in our lives and in all of our attitudes, to work out this controlling force of love, this controlling power that can solve every problem that we confront in all areas. Oh, we talk about politics; we talk about the problems facing our atomic civilization. Grant that all men will come together and discover that as we solve the crisis and solve these problems—the international problems, the problems of atomic energy, the problems of nuclear energy, and yes, even the race problem—let us join together in a great fellowship of love and bow down at the feet of Jesus. Give us this strong determination. In the name and spirit of this Christ, we pray. Amen.”
– Martin Luther King Jr., Loving Our Enemies, 1957
The contributing artists have graciously given this material by Grace. All is free. We expect nothing in return. However, any tips garnered will be donated to the Boston Chapter of the American Red Cross. Like any other Noisetrade download, your contact information submitted will be shared with those same artists. The sharing is meant to strengthen the bonds of fellowship amongst us. I pray that you might find this resource helpful in our high calling to love our enemies by voicing the call to them to enter into the Kingdom of God – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
This is no silver bullet, but it is an invitation to pray contemplatively. It is an invitation to think upon these deep Truths richly and to walk gently with Christ. It is our sincere hope that in our prayer, many are called to serve the victims of these terror attacks, those responsible for the attacks, and others who wish the innocent harm in our public and personal lives. Will you join us in prayer?
Will you “with silent, lifting mind trod the high untrespasssed sanctity of space, put out your hands and touch the face of God” in contemplative prayer?
May His lovingkindness (hesed) be a balm to heal the weary, wounded, and war torn…