Life’s events have a way of showing us where improvement is needed. Like a stress test, we’re often put into situations where our limits are tested, and in the end we are able to determine our own stability, breaking points, and vulnerability. Sort of like how my house was put to the test against burglars this last Labor Day afternoon.
My wife and I took the kids and one of our dogs (the one that doesn’t get car sick) out to the park for a two-hour outing, only to come home and find that people had been inside our home. Those of you who have had this experience know the feelings of fear, violation, anger, and confusion that come with finding out you’ve been burglarized. Luckily, most of what they took can be replaced. But the pictures from the recent birth of my son cannot. To say the least, a home burglary is quite the stress test on a person who wants to keep his family safe and secure, and I think I’ve found the points of vulnerability in both my house and my character as a result.
Today, after sleeping on the issue for a night, I was able to reflect on my own feelings toward the event. As a minister, how am I supposed to react? As a Christian, how am I supposed to feel about the people who did this to my family? The selfish side of me wanted revenge. I wanted to break knee caps and bring justice to the situation. I wanted to grab my bat and have a “Q&A” with the guys that made my wife have to explain to my two-year-old why somebody came into our house and took our TV. That was my honest reaction to the event. I wish I could tell everyone that, like Bishop Myriel in Les Miserables, my initial reaction to being robbed was compassion toward the robbers. Jesus said, “If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:47-48). It was when I remembered that passage of Scripture that I realized how far off I was from a Christlike attitude on the matter.
Knowing where the robbers broke in, I can make changes to my home to make it more secure. But I’ve learned that I have a decidedly blurred line between protecting my family and having compassion toward others. What would I do if the police caught the burglars and I was given the opportunity to face the people that did this? What would I say to them? This stress test has helped me realize that I need to be ready to act out my faith in any and every situation that presents itself, good or bad. It doesn’t mean that I can’t take steps to make my family safe and secure, nor does it mean that being wronged gives me license to act out of anger. According to Jesus, I need to learn to love those who hurt me if I’m going to call myself a Christian. There is so much more at stake than the mere recovery of my stuff.
Coming from the guy that we nailed to a cross, that means a lot.
The Voice Translation (emphasis belongs to the publication)
34 So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. 35 Everyone will know you as My followers if you demonstrate your love to others.