The other day I was listening to Creed in my car and one of my favorite songs came on. The song is called What If? It asks the very important question about what happens if we take vengeance on those who hurt us. The chorus says:
What if you did?
What if you lied?
What if I avenge?
What if eye for an eye?
I thought of what is going on in the news in the Middle East and Northern Africa in response to an anti-Islamic movie that was recently released. It is a perfect example of the end result of eye-for-an-eye mentality.
I have not seen the movie, or even the trailer, and I have no intention of doing so. I am not interested in watching a movie that purposely insults or degrades other humans or their religious beliefs. But I fail to understand how the violent protests that have erupted are a reasonable response to a movie. As insulting as this movie might be, it hasn’t hurt anyone. What if someone made this movie and perhaps even lied about Islam? What if those lied about avenge that injury? The result is violence and death.
This is certainly an extreme example of eye-for-an-eye mentality, and is not indicative of the mentality of all Muslims at all.
But unfortunately we see this mentality on a smaller scale in our everyday lives. When we are hurt we want those who hurt us to pay; we want vengeance.
Many people think eye for an eye is Biblical, and there is certainly some of this mentality exhibited among people in the Old Testament. But God does not call us to such an attitude. In Romans 12, the Apostle Paul reminds us to trust God for justice:
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:17-21 (NASB).
My favorite part of the song What if? is the bridge at the end that says:
I know that I can’t
hold the hate inside my mind
‘Cause what consumes your thoughts
controls your life
If we cling to hatred and our “right” not to be insulted by others, then hatred will control our lives. I prefer to cling to God’s love and let that love control my life.
One last thing, a warning of sorts: If you don’t like hard rock you might not want to listen to this song. It’s pretty rockin’!