The news and social media has been flooded recently with responses that "Somebody has to pay" for all of the horrific things going wrong in our world today. We so desperately want somebody to pay for the pain, the loss, the stupidity, the evil, and the unanswered questions that exist in our world today that we can be found in various tones, for many different reasons, and in a variety vernacular screaming "SOMEBODY HAS TO PAY!" And it doesn't matter what side of the story we are on – we want SOMEBODY to pay.
We want justice for the school officer who lost his job because of the disrespectful school girl who wouldn't do what she was told. Or we want justice for the minor school girl who was physically assaulted by the school officer who couldn't control himself. Depending on how you interpreted that situation from South Carolina recently you may have wanted SOMEBODY to pay. And if some people in your life are on the opposite side of the issue then we begin to make them the enemy as well. As if their opinion created the situation and therefore they should pay too.
Those who want to close our borders to Syrian refugees are being seen as paranoid, fearful, non-compassionate, hateful people who are going to get us killed. Those who talk about welcoming refugees are seen as stupid, bleeding heart, rose colored glasses people who are going to get us killed. We've turned on each other. Isn't it possible that there is right-ness in both opinions, both motives, both intents? Is it possible that neither is wholly right or wrong?
Why is it that if we disagree, we are enemies? We have turned on each other based on a few polarizing topics. You can become an enemy to your fellow American simply based on how you feel about the President, Congress, guns, confederate flags, hoodies, police brutality, or Starbucks coffee cups for goodness sakes. Is this really what we want to do, create new enemies of each other? Does somebody really have to pay for these differences?
In my own state recently a young lady drove her car through a police barricade and into a crowd of people watching a homecoming parade. Perhaps during the pinnacle of innocent activity, while waving flags and clapping hands, 4 people were killed and numerous severely injured. I have read hundreds of articles, news story responses and had many conversations about this. Many people want her to pay for what she did. Most don't care if she was drugged, drunk, deranged, depressed, diabetic, or disillusioned they just want her to pay. I've read some comments from people who believe her parents should pay for not getting her the help she needed. Her boss should pay for sending her home incapacitated instead of getting her help. Her boyfriend should pay if he knew how poorly she was doing. SOMEBODY needs to pay. Somebody has to be the enemy in tragedy, right?
If I may be so bold as to say that there is NO payment that will bring the 2 year old baby killed at the parade back. There is no balance that can be addressed to un-do explosions that already occurred in Paris last week. Nothing changes the fact that those families are forever different and experiencing grief. There is no jail sentence long enough to reverse the atrocities of terrorism, illness, stupidity, or hate. The death sentence won't touch what has already happened. You can take away guns and people find alternative ways to kill. You can close borders and people find alternative ways in. You can prohibit violence and REALLY bad things still happen. But that doesn't mean we have to create an enemy amongst ourselves and make SOMEBODY pay.
If we are Christ followers, disciples of Jesus, then we are called to be at peace with all people to the best of our ability. Romans 12:18. Why then are we turning on each other based on a few topics that divide us? Why are we making those topics more important than the price that has already been paid? SOMEBODY has paid for ALL of these things that we want changed! We don't need to settle the debt of our disagreements we just need to receive the payment that has already been given us. In full, it's been paid.
He paid for the grief, the flashbacks, the nightmares of every person who witnessed that car crashing into innocent victims. He paid for the deaths and the losses. He also paid for the mistake of the driver. His payment covers whatever the reason is that those people died that day. No matter what caused her to do it, PAID. He has paid for the refugee who is cold, crying, alone, young, old, strong, weak and He wants a better life for them. He has also paid for the terrorist posing as a refugee who is angry, evil, confused and filled with hate and He wants a better life for them. He loves the person who doesn't want to open their country to refugees as much as he loves the ones who do. He loves those whom you consider afraid and he loves those whom you deem stupid. He paid for the free choice of the guy waving his confederate flag and he paid for the free choice of the person who opposes it. He loves us so much that he died knowing we were uniquely different. He died knowing we would disagree. Yet He asks us to agree on His love and His grace and be at peace with each other.
If you have ever made the choice to receive this payment of Jesus' grace in your life, I encourage you to consider that it is something we are to constantly receive. Not a one time decision but a daily submission. An ongoing choice to not go looking for new debt or new enemies. An ongoing choice to lay my life down and pick His up. A constant renewal of seeking what His grace and love looks like in our lives, our speech, our habits, our hangups and our decisions. His payment was rooted in love and steeped in grace. It didn't demand that I pay for my own sins, mistakes or shortcomings. Who am I then to insist that somebody else pay for theirs?