“My Enemies are Men Like Me”: A Dialogue

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This is probably the song that set men against Webb’s political push through song. The tune itself is slow and contemplative – a good fit for the song. By virtue of this, the words are that much more poignant and bruising. In light of the wars in the Middle East – in which the United States is the scapegoat by all those who oppose war, this song hits hard.
I have been thinking about our position in the Middle East – as pertains to war. In so many ways the wars in the Middle East are like hog-tying. We know there is an objective – stop the terrorists. Yet, how do we define the terrorists? What is more how does a nation differ from the mandate to forgive your enemies?

(vs. 1)
i have come to give you life
and to show you how to live it
i have come to make things right
to heal their ears and show you how to forgive them

(pre-chorus)
because i would rather die
i would rather die
i would rather die
than to take your life

Not much to say here other than the bitter irony of the cross. Jesus came to give us a more abundant life by being slain at the hands of Roman soldiers. The abundance does not come by way of Lexus or gold. The benefits rendered by the Cross would be diminished if they were equated with such paltry wealth. The blood of Jesus is trampled upon by men like Creflo Dollar and cronies who make the Christian life a parade of materialism rather than a procession of death (2Cor 2.14-16).

Let it be said that the Christian life is much more than majority evangelicalism in the United States lives. It is more than being good throughout the week – if good is defined by avoiding sin merely. The Christian life is going out to the highways and by-ways and compelling the drunkards and prostitutes to come to the banquet spread for them – though they have done nothing to deserve it. It is realizing that we are not the physicians. We, indeed, are sick men who must have an intravenous supply of Christ welling up in our hearts through his Holy Spirit. Broken vessels we are. Fragile clay pots.

What is more…a Christian realizes that God has every right to take his life. He is not his own. Not only did God have every right to smite us with sickness – due to our rebellion. But also, God continues to bear that right since we were bought at a price. Those who belong to Jesus realize that he died in our place. On the cross, our sin was crucifixed with/in him.

(chorus)
how can i kill the ones i’m supposed to love
my enemies are men like me
i will protest the sword if it’s not wielded well
my enemies are men like me

As Christians we must protest the sword if it is not wielded well. The Lenin-Soviet Union, Hitler’s Reich, Mao’s Massacres. Yet, the sword is still in the hands of the government. When Jesus commanded his disciples to turn their cheeks, he was speaking of forgiveness – not a literal turning and invitation to smite again. Jesus himself did not offer the other cheek in such a staunch interpretation. He rebuked the one who slapped him: “Why did you hit me?” He had done nothing wrong. We must forgive. How? More on that in another post (I want to write another post that explains how and upon what basis Christians forgive).

We are to kill the ones we are supposed to love when they kill. That is, I don’t kill by my own vigilante justice. Rather, the governing bodies above me dictate where justice should be meted out. This is due to sin that reigns in men’s bodies. God has given us institutions like government as a gift of common grace to guard from hell-ward justice.

(vs. 2)
peace by way of war is like purity by way of fornication
it’s like telling someone murder is wrong
and then showing them by way of execution

Not exactly. Peace is brought about when injustice is squashed. The wars we see are foretastes and foreshadowings of the final battle that will cleanse the earth of sin and distribute perfect justice. True righteousness will only reign when God’s enemies are decisively put underneath King Jesus’ feet. In other words, without men being given justice in this life we can expect no peace.

Imagine, if you will, the Hussein brothers being asked to stop raping and torturing women. Ridiculous! They were representations of evil in this world. The only way to bring about beauty is by wiping off the filth.

(bridge)
when justice is bought and sold just like weapons of war
the ones who always pay are the poorest of the poor

This is sadly more true than I would like to believe. Economically speaking, the rich get richer. Venture capitalists and middle class Americans who love cheap gas are the ones who love to hear of wars and rumors of war.

This is why the church must be more than a country club. If it is true that the poor get poorer. The church must come alongside these poor and show them how to make ends meet. If we are the church constituted by the Lord Jesus, and evidenced in the book of Acts, we will share with all those who have need.

May God grant us the grace to live life like Christ…

4 Comments

Filed under Books & Media, Christian Living, Culture, Current Events, Middle East, Mockingbird, Music, Politics

4 responses to ““My Enemies are Men Like Me”: A Dialogue

  1. matt… welcome back.

    i liked your thoughts on the “peace by way of war is like purity by way of fornication…” lines. i puzzled over what he meant by those for a bit.

  2. I’ve really enjoyed this song. Sure “peace by way of war” is a cheap shot. But the lyrics makes some good points as you noted.

    Ultimately, Christians living in the CITY OF MAN will always have an uneasy relation to war and capital punishment. And we should. I’ve thought back at my own “warmongering” before Afghanistan. It seems like every generation has to learn to hate war for themselves. Let’s hope we don’t have to re-learn how to love life enough to fight for it as well.

    Thanks for the post, very well done.

  3. Joel Majors

    I always thought that what he meant by the “poorest of the poor” was that those persons where the ones actually fighting the battles of them that buy and sell justice. Going with that, I took it to mean he had the notion that it is the poorest of the poor that are the U.S. Military, which is wrong. There are some poor in the military, but a large number of the persons in the Military are well-educated and from middel- to upper middle-class families.
    I do agree with what you have to say, but I just wanted to toss my hat in ;-)

    I have to disagree with you on one point, though; I don’t think that cheaper gas comes through war. At least, it hasn’t thus far. The best way for cheaper gas in America would be to kill foreign dependence on oil by drilling locally, telling the EPA to back off a good deal, and building more refineries. Of course, this is entirely beside your main point.

    And thanks for the link to the ESV on iPod, I am implementing this as I type!

  4. Thanks, fellows, for your comments. Real quick, I was saying the line about people getting cheaper gas tongue in cheek. I whole-heartedly agree that we should be leading the way into a new era of technology so that we no longer fund terrorist groups by buying their oil. I would love to see more happen by way of Stanley Steamers. Perhaps we could have something dreamed up that would run off steam that would be more efficient than the ole’ steamer.

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