Read this article and then frame it this way: if your wife or daughter went to the gynecologist and the doctor would, without your or her consent, remove her uterus because she was poor, a “criminal”, an “illegal alien”, or had a mental health issue, you would not see that action as kindness in anyway, rather you would understand that that doctor violated your loved-one’s basic human rights. Please read this short story and recognize that currently the US government is force-sterilizing minority women in ICE detention centers. Do you know who else is currently sterilizing minority women for no reason other than hatred and racial supremacy?
But aren’t the communists our enemies? We expect them to do evil, right? Righteous America would never commit the same kind of violence in the same kind of ways that the evil, atheist communists would?
The Chinese government hates the Uigher Muslims, a minority group living in north western China. The fact that any modern country would tolerate and/or build and then condone concentration camps comes as a visceral shock especially considering how Adolf Hitler gave them such a bad name. Us law-abiding Christian hate to think of any one force-sterilizing a woman for any reason. Us law-abiding Christian Americans hate to think of the violence that concentration camps bring to the world but ironically those same camps take place just in slightly different scales here in “God’s” country, America. What is even more sickening and ironic is to see the Kenosha sheriff talk the same disgusting unethical “concentration camp” language in a press conference just two years ago. His words are directed at black males who robbed a store. Here is the forty second clip from the press conference in which the sheriff details his idea while stating that this “is what many other decent folks have in mind.” If you call yourself a Christian and think the same way this sheriff does, maybe you should reconsider your religious beliefs. Also included is a link to John Oliver speaking context to the ironies surrounding the Kenosha police shooting of Jacob Blake, the vigilante murders of Rittenhouse, as well as the current narrative behind the RNC.
Kenosha Sheriff rant against black criminals – https://youtu.be/R1X03BIVevI
Further context for the above video – https://news.avclub.com/john-oliver-connects-white-supremacist-murders-in-kenos-1844901915
Now, if you have read all these articles, watched these videos, and are a politically conservative Christian, I know the first argument that is ringing in your head. “People who do bad things deserve to get shot if they don’t comply with authorities.” Or maybe you are thinking, ” yes that video of what the sheriff said was awful and shouldn’t happen, but seriously if people do bad things they should go to jail and sit in solitary confinement or rot in a cell for years.” or maybe a thought floating even further in the back of your head if you are trying to rationalize the words of the sheriff and even share his sentiments that some black men should be killed because their having babied propagates crime somehow, is “why do black men… why do black people do bad things? Why can’t black people just be successful like Obama or like me.” If you are thinking any of these things, then I want you to understand two things
- You really don’t understand what it is like to be a person of color in America. You really don’t understand what it is like to grow up in a poor inner city. You really don’t understand the vicious law-enforcement that permeates the “hood” or how it creates an almost inescapable cycle for many youth of color who live in that context. You really don’t want to understand what people other people are going through. You really don’t understand the political and socio-economic struggles that tend to exist more clearly in highly populated cities in America. I will add that I also do NOT understand clearly what this means because I grew up in a very good family out in the country side. It has only been through much reading, study, paper writing, and self reflection that I hold these opinions or even find context to write this short story.
- Similar to the first point: if some form of thought ran through your head like I mentioned above, you really can’t place yourself in another person’s skin or shoes. You choose to blatantly misunderstand the narrative of Mathew 25:31-46.
The second point is what this story centers around. This story is a satirical parable about the hypocritical ways I understand most politically and religiously conservative persons think.
I repeat: if you believe that a person who did some bad thing needs immediate and awful, violent retribution, you do NOT think the same way Jesus did.
side note – I have written few short stories in my time as a writer and a large mass of words is difficult to manage. This story rambles like a gritty conversation between two men. Please have mercy upon me as writing and especially editing are difficult things for me to do. Note as well, that just because I placed this in public eye does not make me an expert on anything I mentioned. I am still learning just like you. I don’t know everything, and I understand little. Above all, if you misunderstand this story, instead of writing me off as some “libtard” know that I spent hours pondering then writing and editing this, and understand that it did not come from a void. Ask yourself: what sane rational person would spend hours stitching something together for nothing? I don’t understand this, is he coherent or sane? Well, quite obviously, I am very sane and coherent. It is your choice to understand.
At the end of the age, Jesus, the God of us all, will gather every single one of his children from every corner of society and from every frame of time. Upon gathering them and us, Jesus will ask each what we did in life that was truly good. This will include not just arbitrary acts of niceness, but the things you or I did that flowed from the genuine, human affections of the soul.
Jesus, being God, will judge us according to how He acted when he walked upon the earth.
“You!” he will say in a welcoming tone, “You, how did you love? How did you show acts of kindness to your friends, to strangers, and even to your enemies? Remember what I showed you how loving your enemies is something that I did in my time frame. I taught you to love your enemies and all people not just because love is merely a good thing, but because love, even to your enemies is loving another person’s body, it means loving they way they look, or loving their color of skin, or loving their culture, and loving the way they laugh: it is loving them for who they are. Loving your enemies didn’t mean you didn’t weep when they did evil. No, you wept for the evil that they did and you tried to convince them to bring less pain and chaos into this world. Above all, by having loved your enemies, you gave them a second chance. You gave them the safe space in which they could pluck themselves up and praise me.”
“You,” he will say, pointing towards you with undeniable affection, “have you done this. Did you love everyone, not just once or twice, but seventy times seven?”
Perhaps you will reply that you loved your neighbor, because your neighbor was your friend who you went to church with. You will reply, with such a graceful smile on your face, that you visited the jail several times a year because in the fragment of your society’s religious norms prison ministry was acceptable and good. When Jesus asks you what good you produced in the world, you reply that, for example, you taught your children to hate drugs and to view the drug user as a drug addict. You taught your children that people who were in jail needed to be there because they presumably did bad things and bad things needed to be punished. You will tell Jesus that you taught your children to not fornicate or wear jewelry. You will tell Jesus that you helped homeless people just as he commanded, but only if the homeless person would use the money you gave them to buy milk or eggs to put in a refrigerator they don’t own because they are homeless.
“Jesus,” you will say with a coy yet innocent smile, “I didn’t give to homeless beggars if they would use my money for drugs because drugs are bad and they kill the soul. Drugs send people to hell, right? I know you hate hell, and you said that all people who died loving bad things go to hell.”
And maybe Jesus will shake his head in wonder and give you a second chance to remember the tears on the homeless man’s face. Jesus will pause then to help you remember that the man had nowhere to lay his head just like himself, some two thousand years earlier. Jesus will look at you, and the pity in his eyes will ask you if you even found out this man’s name, or that this man had a wife and children at some point in time and that this man truly understood love. This man had made some terrible life choices that he regretted but he didn’t know how to get out of them because he was human and all he needed, at that point in time, was help, not just money. The homeless man needed help in such a way that someone would understand his human position and lift him towards God. But no one, not even you, would take the time to understand him.
Jesus will wonder if you remembered this man with the same vividness that you remembered and re-did the sacraments on Sunday morning or if you remembered the man with the same fondness as you gave towards your church culture and your friends who fit into that culture. Jesus will look into your memories and see how you refused to give him money because you suspected he would use it for alcohol. You didn’t give him a ride because you were going the apposite way, and taking him to his destination would make you late. You did give him a Gospel tract and told him the some arbitrary facts about who Jesus was and how died on the cross. But this will trouble Jesus and cause him to wonder why you believed that you from your social, and religious perspective could only offer the man a lifeless piece of paper. You thought you were somehow helping “save” this man by giving him this tract when, in fact, what this man needed was one compassionate person to understand his pain and his need. Jesus will wonder then if you saw that man as worth little simply because you could not superimpose your own personal narrative onto his. You couldn’t understand the homeless man’s mistakes or place in society.
You will both remember, then, the words of Jesus: “if you gave sacrificially to the least of these, you have done it to me.” Jesus and you will wonder if you had passed him by.
Jesus won’t accept this thinking, and so he will purse his lips. And an awful silence will fill the moment. “I gave to the widows.” you will say trying to release the tension, “There was one who lived three acres away, just across the highway. Oh, and I raised an excellent family. All of them go to church now. They are all moral upstanding citizens.”
“Did you feed the naked?” Jesus asks.
“Well, I provided for my family.” you reply with quick tongue. “And I donated to different charities. And…” At this point you will tell Jesus a story from a long time ago about how you helped change a Hispanic guy’s tire. He had limited English and was confused as to reaching his destination. You suspected that he was illegal and you almost reported him but din’t feel like speaking to the police. The Hispanic man din’t actually need much help changing the tire because he already knew how to change a tire. You tell Jesus then how when you gave him a gospel tract, before you left, that you hoped he would later read because you knew the power of the message of the tract would change his life. You even prayed about him later for three weeks in a row.
Jesus will nod at your story because he wants to understand you and your perspectives. But then he will ask, “I am so glad you helped that man. I know him well. That was the goodness that I wanted you to do. That was who I wanted you to see. You took an opportunity at hand and used it for some good. But my question is, when you helped that man, did you see me in his eyes. Did you love me in that moment?”
But you will squint in confusion because you only recall seeing Jesus painted as a white man with long, blond hair and blue eyes. The Hispanic man looked nothing like Jesus.
“Well, I suppose you were there.”
“I’m so sorry,” Jesus will say because he doesn’t want to overwhelm you “I don’t mean to confuse you. I wasn’t meaning that I was that man exactly, rather, I wanted to know if, when you looked into that man’s eyes, you understood him as utterly human just like I was ages ago and just like you were in your lifespan. Did you see him as a man just like yourself, with wonderful loves and joys, with pleasures and pains. Did you see this man as a man with children of his own? Did you see this man as a man who found life difficult sometimes, just like you or I. My question is, did you treat him like you would have treated me; like God? If you knew that I was that man, would you have gone out of your way to get to know me. And in that way did you see me in him?”
Yet still you squint your eyes, but a little less, because you are choosing somewhat to understand the meta-narrative of Jesus’ words.
But now, at the thought of love, what flows through your mind are the ways you loved when wanted to love. You remember that you wanted to love your wife, and so you did. You wanted to love your friends, even when they disagreed with you, and so you loved them. But Jesus can read your thoughts, because he is God, and so he asks you one final question.
“Did you love your enemies?”
“What do you mean?” you will ask “I never went to war. I never had to shoot someone.”
“Well, by enemies “Jesus replies, “I mean this: did you love people who did evil things despite their evil? Did you love people who directed evil at you? Did you love people who had different ideologies that you did? Did you love people who lived outside of your cultural context. Let’s use this Hispanic man you just told me about, the one with a flat tire: he obviously lived far enough away from your cultural and religious context that you thought it a necessary good to give him a tract that described your specific christian or religious understanding and that described who you perceived me to be. What if I told you, now – being God – that he already knew who I was? What if he was already doing the goodness that I required of him? What if I told you that he loves me dearly and that I know him and love him as my brother?”
Jesus continues, “It almost seems that because you didn’t know his story or couldn’t place him in your religious context or narrative, you immediately perceived him to be a lost soul yet you never found out if he was lost or not. People can worship in different ways, in different expressions, and in different cultural contexts. Condemning them immediately as a sinner refuses them their right to express who they are and what they understand and it denies them their humanity. Do you understand this? In a certain way, your giving him that tract was the easiest method of you warning him of some kind of impending doom that you believed to be incredibly pertinent. Incredible enough for you to give him a tiny, lifeless tract about, but not incredible enough for you to see him as an actual person. If you had actually believed in this terrible doom that you thought would burst upon this man some day, you would have wept and pleaded with him continually. You would have befriended him. You would have learned his own language. You would have found every opportunity to remind him of this doom and that he could save himself from it. The fact is, your idea of this doom didn’t exist vividly enough in your mind then, at such a critical and human point in your time, for it to have created a real, visceral reaction in your sentiments toward that man, because all you wanted to do was help him as quickly as possible so you could go home to love the people who returned your love. You offered him a mere piece of paper in exchange for your time, thinking that he would do well enough on his own to understand your personal perspective. All this “doom” was in your life was your own personal opinion. This doom was an idea your culture constructed that helped you make sense of lifestyles and reinforce your own. This idea helped you sort and condemn people who you thought were evil and whose humanity you couldn’t understand. In reality, this doom-idea was an excuse to aid and understand humanity as little as possible because if they didn’t agree with your religious opinion then you turned them over to the “doom” and counted them as lost. Did you actually think you were helping him? ”
After a short pause, Jesus will continue, “If you had actually loved this Hispanic man, beyond your idea of doom, don’t you think you would have, put very frankly, understood him for who he was and thus loved him for who he was in his place in time? Think of it this way: if you had actually loved this man, you would have seen my body in his.”
“Now don’t misunderstand me,” Jesus says, ” offering this man, whom I love, some help was good at some level and this is what I wanted you to do, but I also wanted more. You really thought you loved him for who he was, but it seems like that the only thing you did, in the end, was give him your ideologies on a lifeless piece of paper.”
Jesus will pause again. “I find it curious that when I asked if you loved your enemies that your initial response began with the fact you never went to war. Do you believe that enemies are only created in the context of violence? Aren’t enemies those persons who disagree with us and our cultural perspective so deeply that we or they choose to completely disassociate with each other? Sometimes ideas are so powerful and broad that they lead to large misunderstanding and even to bloodshed and violence, but that is rarely the case. I am glad you never went to war. I never did either, and I commend you on that point. But enemies are not always found in war.”
But you will sit there and stare at the floor because you know that Jesus is right. You remember that your enemies were very real in your time and place. Jesus will continue to press you on this issue of enemies, however.
“ So, in your time and day,” Jesus says, “people disagreed over issues of race and religion. You chose the narrative that stated essentially that anyone who lived outside of your cultural, religious and racial context was an enemy, not merely by physicality, but because they didn’t fit inside your specific religious or social ideologies of what you thought people should be. Of course, if such a different person would have changed their own personal ideologies and perspectives to more nearly match yours, they would become saved or good, somehow. Perhaps you believed that because some person changed their thinking or lifestyle that they would have potentially placed themselves in line with more love from me. That is to say, they would have become less of an enemy to your ideologies and to your context, to your very understanding of skin color or religion or perspective and thus less of a perceived threat to who you thought I was.”
“Think of it this way,” Jesus says kindly, “You rejoiced when your country dropped bombs on its enemies because if your countries enemies had had their way, they would have supposedly ended your culture and your personal lifestyle. You believed the fear mongers who said that such and such a person wanted to kill you and rape your wife and daughters because they believed a different religion then you or because they had a different context or lifestyle. You thought that America was destined to be God’s mighty nation, and any person – say a Muslim or a migrants from the Northern Triangle or black persons advocating social justice – who did not share your nationalistic ideologies, or fit into what your frame of “American”, must have been an enemy to some extent. You equated and confused certain American ideals of justice and religious freedom with the sacrificial freedom of love that I advocated for as if they were remotely similar. Ironically, then, if someone was to tread on your ideal for American religious freedom, they became an enemy in your eyes and were not worthy of love but fit for death and harsh judgement. You believed that if someone was an enemy of your nationalistic and religious ideals, then they did not deserve love.”
Jesus pauses again, because he wants to complete the thought before you begin to retort.
“That’s precisely the point” Jesus will say with mercy in his voice, “I wanted you to love people for who they were despite their ideologies and despite their sin. I never advocated senseless retaliating violence on the criminal for the crimes they committed however small or great. What I wanted from you was to see past a person’s evil, even if that evil was such a small thing that they aimed at you. I wanted you to look past a person’s evil and love them the same way you would have loved me. What is more, most people that you perceived to do evil and whom you hated – racially, ideologically and physically – most of those people you thought committed evil didn’t actually commit evil, you just thought they did. You thought that they committed some evil by whatever definition evil meant to you then”
“You hated your enemies and so you just misunderstood them.” Jesus says.
“What I desired most from you,” Jesus pleads with you, “was for you to give everyone a second chance, and I wanted you to convince everyone to stop doing evil things no matter how small or great those things were. I wanted you to love everyone regardless of who they were, of what they did, of their skin color, or of their lifestyle. I wanted you to love everyone despite what name they called me. I didn’t mean for you to become something other than what I created you to be. I didn’t want you to embrace something other than what I gave you. I didn’t mean for you to stoop to sin just because you loved the sinner. I wanted you to love all humans because love is good and because I am love and I want you to love me and everyone created in the image of me. And, ultimately, what I wanted you to do is to help all humans you interacted with, to further their love for all of humanity at all times, and to further their love in me.”
But a hard shadow falls across your face and slides into the pit of your stomach because suddenly, you don’t recognize this man speaking to you.
And at this point, this man named Jesus, out of pure joy and love, will stretch his arms so wide that you will see the nail scars in his hands.