"I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me." (Deuteronomy 5: 9)
Initially a sense of injustice arises when reading this text from a Western perspective. It seems unfair that God wouild punish the children for the sin of their parents. But, if sin is thought to produce consequences rather than disjointed punishment, it makes sense. We are often sowing the seeds of the next generations destruction. This text describes how things are in the currency of sin.
A Congresswoman was shot down in the recent sorrow and shooting in Tucson. Truly it produces grief. But then there are the children. 9 year old Christina Green, elected to her student council, came to hear the Congresswoman speak. An innocent event. Yet it was she too who would bear the consequences of our times. This grandchild of a Major League pitcher and manager, along with the other victims of this shooting, are the bearers of our sins, we of this generation.
Our recent travels through the American political landscape have led us into the provinces of hatred, slander, and threat. One party has shamed the other and escalated the violence of political currency. Hating one another, we hate God who made us all. Put one into the "crosshairs" of political war and we are all targets. The consequences of travel into hatred, even for a brief moment, cannot be undone and draws us in. And it is the children, the next generation, that feels the real brunt of such attitudes and actions.
We tend to believe we can get away with just a little slander, just a tinge of hate in the guise of winning an election or furthering a policy. We disguise our attempt to slander another, cloaked in the camoflage of honorable goals.
But God will not have it. God will not save us from evil of our own making, and so the consequences. Someone, somewhere will be a tool of these inflamed times, these "harmless" words. They will load bullets, real ones, into guns and children will not rise from the death they wield.
The love of Christ, the same love reflected in the Buddha, the wisdom of Tao, the words of the prophets of old, that is enemy love, can stop the cycle of revenge that threatens us around the world. I heard such love in the prayers this week at my church in Sunday worship. Prayers not only for victims of the bullets, but for the shooter who was just a tool who showed us the real consequences of hatred. Let us pray that we can recognize what we do and stop it, in the name of God, in the name of our children.