J Walking

You may have seen Columbia’s president, Lee Bollinger, introduce Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday. It wasn’t exactly a love-in. That introduction plus all of the protests got me to thinking about how Jesus might have introduced Ahmadinejad. Would he have listed all of Ahmadinejad’s public policy sins? Would he have publicly challenged him on his horrific statements? His horrific policies? Would he, in short, have sounded anything like President Bollinger?I don’t think so.My guess is that Jesus might have gotten up and said something like, “This is Mahmoud and I love him.” From there Jesus would, I think, have gone on to explain all that he loved about Mahmoud. Perhaps he would have used a childhood nickname or a pet name used by his parents. Maybe he would have talked about a few moments from Mahmoud’s childhood or teen years and used them as examples of the goodness in his heart. He would, I think, have broken down his life in front of him in a beautiful way. And I think that had Jesus done that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad might have wept and embraced Jesus and given a very different kind of speech. How odd then to sit here as a man who tries to follow Jesus and realize that I need to think of Mahmoud in similar terms. It is not my right to hate him. Nowhere does Jesus give me that kind of license. I may not call him all the things that I want to call him. I may not yell at him for being a barbarian. No, I need to be ready to get on my knees and offer to wash his feet. That, I sense, is what the radical Jesus would have me do. It makes no sense. But isn’t that exactly the problem people had with Jesus when he first showed up on the scene? Didn’t they desperately want him to take down the Roman Empire? Didn’t they want their sometimes barbaric rulers to be destroyed? And didn’t they see Jesus as the answer to their problem?Jesus’ solution, however, was rather different. He said he came to serve and not be served. He said that Rome should be given what Rome was due. He didn’t use his powers to change the Empire. He used to his life to change hearts. He gave his life to give life.It is the Jesus paradox and it is why, I sense, he might have introduced Mahmoud with a kiss on the cheek.

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