Living and Dying By A Code

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Michael P. Murphy, Matthew Axelson, Danny Dietz, and Marcus Luttrell

After battling the flu for most of this week, I was getting cabin fever so I had to bust out and do something I rarely do: go see a movie.  We chose “Lone Survivor” which is about a Navy SEAL Team in Afghanistan that gets attacked by the Taliban and only one SEAL makes it out alive. The only reason he made it was because of Afghan villagers who were willing to hide him from the Taliban.

I found myself feeling guilty for “cheering” on the inside every time a Taliban fighter was shot. I wish it wasn’t that way, but it’s complicated being an American Christian in this regard I suppose. We don’t want our military harmed and the Taliban is the “enemy.”  But I can’t help wonder, in fact I know how God feels about the slaughter.

There are few things that get me as emotional as the American Military:  watching them before deployment in the airport, seeing them return from the battlefront, and the sadness I feel when one more soldier is killed in action.  I so appreciate the sacrifice of those who serve; the courage, valor, honor, and the code.  The underlying principles, whether written or unwritten, that dictates much of camaraderie and battlefield engagement.

But the movie also depicted another side of Afghan culture that we know little about.  Why on earth did the Sabray Tribe rescue Petty Officer Marcus Lutrell, taking the risk of going head to head with the Taliban?  The credits explain aspects of the Pashtunwali “code of life.”  Much of it has to do with the treatment of “outsiders”:  respect, justice, hospitality, love, forgiveness, and responsibility for strangers and guests.  Sounds a little familiar in so many regards.

Hospitality is so much more than having someone over for a movie and snacks.  It is a strict belief in the worth of fellow human beings regardless of beliefs, behavior, economic standing, or ethnicity.  “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. And, Love your neighbor as yourself…”Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” [Story of the Good Samaritan] “Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same” (Luke 10:25-37).

Bravery is the unquestionable desire to oppose tyranny and enemies of one’s family, village, and guests.  “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed” (Psalm 82:3).

Asylum offers protection to outsiders against their enemies, to the point of fighting for them.  “Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable” (Proverbs 31:8).

Loyalty refuses to bring shame upon one’s family or village.  “Those who bring trouble on their families inherit only the wind. The fool will be a servant to the wise” (Proverbs 11:29).

Honor is the priority of defending the weak, the poor, and the feeble.  “I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).

A several thousand year old code that isn’t just spoken about but lived.  It’s never relegated to a mere bumper sticker or refrigerator magnet, nor limited to t-shirts and hats.  I receive it as a challenge to live out my faith and not just blog/preach/talk about it.

  • Do we really have the fortitude and absolute dedication to lay everything down for a stranger?
  • To protect others at the risk of experiencing loss?
  • To defend the helpless?
  • To live in a way that would honor my family, church, and God?
  • Is the code of the Gospel so sacred to me that I’d guard and honor it with my life?
  • Am I willing to obey and carry out my orders?
  • Am I forever training and preparing, but seldom going into battle?
  • Does my faith govern my life, words, and actions?
  • Do we have what it takes to survive, even if we’re the only one left standing?
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Marcus Luttrell and Gulab Mohammad

Please continue to pray for the U.S. Military and their families; those who sacrifice daily on our behalf.  For their protection and safe return; comfort for those who mourn; and that as a nation we’d care for and cherish our veterans.

Let’s also pray for peace and stability in Afghanistan; for an end to corruption, violence, and poverty; that millions would know the blessings of following Christ.

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