The behavior of the United States must seem very odd to the foreign observer. We have the strongest military on earth, and have used this military might to defeat some of history’s most powerful foes. But, before, during, and after the battles we argue incessantly.
We take wounded enemy soldiers into our hospitals. We feed and clothe them. Before the smoke clears we clamber over the rubble to care for the injured, help them rebuild their homes, infrastructure, and wealth. Hard justice accompanied by tender mercy… where does this paradox come from?
It comes from our twofold Gospel roots. The Bible demands harsh, pure, unrestrained justice for every rebel in God’s kingdom. All true Christians first see themselves as enemies of God deserving nothing but his wrath. But then we are taught in that same Bible of God’s tender, pure, sacrificial “one way” love for His enemies. A love that found a way to answer the demands of justice and bring reconciling mercy to God’s enemies by faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Then God commanded His newly reconciled enemies to now love their enemies. So we have this seeming paradox woven into our culture. A culture influenced by the Gospel will always be conflicted. The rule of law and demands of Justice are clearly necessary. But justice is affected by personal guilt, and the ever present personal experience of mercy and forgiveness.
Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
Matthew 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.