You shall not murder. Exodus chapter 20, verse 13.
Friendship. I think that, of all the traits and words we can use to describe Jesus, perhaps the best, at least by my estimation, is ‘friend.’ Growing up, I learned to make – and lose – friends quickly because my family moved around a lot. These days, I know a great many people but am friends with only a few even though I am friendly with most. Thus, to describe someone as my friend is to describe them in the best way I know how. And I am a friend of God.
Have you ever considered that friendship is the opposite of murder? Life is Jesus and Jesus is all about relationships, about being friends with the people who intersect our lives. It’s not just that life is the opposite of murder: it is a life being lived that is killing’s opposite. A life being lived is a life being lived in friendship with Christ because Christ is the friend of the world. Noodle it for awhile: friendship is the opposite of death.
How many times have you heard about estranged killers like the young man in Santa Barbara who murdered those people this past week? One common denominator seems to be that they are loners; friendless people who resort to killing to relate in some way to others. Or Grand Theft Auto: have you ever played the game? In it, you role play as a killer on the loose in the city; tragic. Perhaps if we found ways to better reach out to other people, we might not contemplate so many ways to murder other people.
Perhaps if we found ways to cherish, preserve and revere life the urge to kill might be held in check. We only get one life; why spend it in ways devised to deny others their lives? Once life is extinguished, unlike in Grand Theft Auto, we don’t regenerate and start again. Once we’re dead, we’re dead. More and more, I find myself admiring people who go to seeming extremes to avoid killing anything, even insects. Once that life is gone, it’s gone forever and nobody on this planet knows how to create another life. Other beings, yes, but the force that is life? Not so much.
Maybe we would be better off if we spent ways trying to be friends. No, I’m not some Pollyanna. The world is a dangerous and fallen place. Some folks don’t want to be friendly in any way. Some folks may be beyond our friendship…except that isn’t how Jesus sees them. Even the worst of us is still someone Jesus loves, and knows, and wants us to know better. Maybe if we tried to know each other better, we could find better ways to stop the senseless killing.
Lord, search my heart and help me to be friendly, to be friends with more people.
Read Exodus chapter 11, the plague on the firstborn…