Saturday, April 20, 2013

Boston and the Least of These...Responding to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

This last week, the city of Boston bore more than its fare share of the fallen nature of this world we live in. I was at work when I heard the news......


We all stopped what we were doing and one by one, made our way to the TV in the lobby and bore witness to the horrible event that had just happened. At first, no one knew how many were hurt, did anyone die? As the afternoon progressed we learned of the near 140 injured and the 3 who lost their lives. More questions....

                        WHO DID THIS? WHY? 

By Friday, the investigative authorities had their suspicions. Two brothers. Both from southern Russia. The oldest (26 years old) was killed in a shoot-out with police. The younger brother (19 years old), Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was arrested Friday night after a day on the run, being shot and severely wounded, and pulled from a hiding spot in a boat in a backyard.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has not gone to trial yet. He has not been found guilty. If found guilty, he could face the death sentence. But, we haven't got that far in the story yet, and quite honestly, for doesn't matter.

What does matter for those of us who follow Jesus, is how to relate to this man. Here and now, guilty or not, how does Jesus tell us to relate to the least of these in our world? What are we to do with the sick (those shot by the police, bleeding and near death in a hospital)? What are we to do with the imprisoned (those under armed guard, who will be interrogated without normal rights of an American citizen)?

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells us a story of the final judgement. He separates those who will enter his kingdom from those who will not. And then, gives these words as reason for who will enter:

"Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me."

The righteous then ask Jesus when they ever saw him hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked , sick , or in prison. And he replied: 

"Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me."

I don't know about you, but  Dzhokhar Tsarnaev sure seems like one of "the least of these" to me. He is sick, and he is in prison. He may be innocent, but he may be guilty. Jesus doesn't distinguish between the two. He simply says, VISIT ME and COME TO ME. For those of us who follow Jesus, we are to treat Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as if he is Jesus himself. I may not be able to personally travel to Boston to aid this man. What I CAN do, what we ALL can do, is pray for him. Lift this man up to the Father, thanking him for the forgiveness that has been provided in Jesus. Instead of condemn this man in our thoughts and speech, we can bless and protect him (a fellow image bearer of our King) with our words. In whatever small way we can , we can visit and come to him in this dark hour of his and our lives.


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