Dignity for the Wrongdoer

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven…’”

– Matthew 5:43-45(a)

I recently listened to atheist Bill Maher interview a group of men about a guy who was riding on a city bus with a swastika tattooed on his arm. Though he was looking at his phone and minding his own business, another guy filmed himself suckerpunching him because of his tatoo. This led Maher to ask the gentlemen he was talking to if it’s okay to punch Nazis. To my surprise, nearly every single one of them said yes. They felt it was fine to be physically violent towards Nazis because of what they represent. One guy went so far as to say that his grandfather hadn’t fought in World War II to allow neo-Nazis to show their swastikas on a bus, and another suggested re-writing the first amendment so it excludes free speech for them. As I was listening to this outpouring of hatred, I couldn’t help but recall what I had learned years ago about the manner in which American soldiers treated Nazi prisoners during WWII. Far from being physically violent, our own military kept them clean, fed them, cared for them, and showed them the dignity due every human being, even an enemy. I believe that’s exactly what Jesus would have done. 

Friend, being a servant leader and a follower of Christ means loving your enemies. There is power in ascribing God’s dignity and compassion to each person, no matter how violent or horrible their actions. Everyone is made in His image, and therefore, everyone has indescribable value and potential. The only hope for the hardened heart of a wrongdoer is the undiscriminating and radical love of Jesus, and the only way they will experience it is through you. You have the awesome privilege of loving the unlovable, and knowing that the Spirit of the Living God will go to work in and through you as you do! 


Jesus, thank you for calling me to love the unlovable; I pray for a greater measure of your grace and compassion today.


Who is God calling you to love, even if they are considered unlovable in the world’s eyes?

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