Don’t be a Napoleon …
Napoleon Bonaparte continues to make all the lists of the people who have most dramatically impacted human history.
It was this leader who is quoted as saying, “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”
To that, a lot of people would say, “Amen!”
But Jesus wouldn’t.
Scripture implores us to have a very different response when we see our enemies in error …
“Don’t rejoice when your enemies fall; don’t be happy when they stumble,” Proverbs 24:17.
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike,” Matthew 5:43-45.
“Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them,” Romans 12:14.
For many, these are pretty sounding words from an ancient book. But they’re really specific instructions God provides to all who believe in Him, even in our day. It’s a lesson that Martha Mullen understood and carried out, even though she would face tremendous ridicule for doing so.
That’s because Mullen, a mental health counselor in Virginia, was key to arranging for the burial of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Boston bomber whose exploits left three dead and 260 others wounded. For more than a week after his death, no cemetery or community wanted to bury the slain terrorist.
Mullen said she was at a Starbucks when she heard a radio news report about the difficulty of finding a burial spot for Tsarnaev.
“My first thought was Jesus said love your enemies,” Mullen explained, then she had an epiphany. “I thought someone should do something about this, and I am someone.”
Mullen, a member of the United Methodist Church, said she was motivated by her faith and that she had the full support of her pastor.
The Washington Post reports Mullen took the initiative to find a place that would accept Tsarnaev for burial. She was put in touch with Islamic Funeral Services of Virginia, which runs a cemetery in Doswell, VA, and brokered an arrangement to have him buried there.
Many local residents and officials were angered by Mullen’s intervention. While Mullen says the backlash has been unpleasant, she has no regrets.
“I can’t pretend it’s not difficult to be reviled and maligned,” she told The Associated Press. “But any time you can reach across the divide and work with people that are not like you, that’s what God calls us to do.”
In contrast, many of us won’t even speak to a neighbor who we consider an “enemy,” yet Mullen could treat a real enemy with love that comes with God.
So what should we do when we see an enemy in error?
“Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone — especially those in the family of faith,” Galatians 6:10.
When it comes to your enemies, are you following the example of Christ, or are you just another Napoleon?