Monday, September 11, 2006

When Evil Strikes

In His sermon on the mount, Jesus made a bold declaration about how we ought to respond when evil hits us.

"You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. "

For most of us, these are words which are hard to swallow. Retaliation seems to be in our "blood" (or, I should say - our flesh).

Jesus went on to say something even more profound after this. He said we ought to love our enemies and even pray for them. Wow. Can you do that? Certainly, not on our own.

We hear the words of Christ, but then ask - "is self-defense ever justified? Is it morally right to wage a war? It is ever justified?" Does God then mean for us to avenge evil? Not so fast. Over and over, Christ provides an example of resisting retaliation and gives us the admonition to "wait".

When Peter pulls his sword and cuts the ear of the high priest's servant, he incurs a strong rebuke from our Lord, "Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword (Mt. 26:52)"

And, then he calls those who have been wronged, to wait: "Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord" (Rom 12:19).

Lord, kill pride in us. That when we are wronged, we see the throrn pierced brow and the lashes on your back. Nailing you to the cross, was the greatest offense ever committed. And, yet you endured it willingly that you might vindicate your Father's righteousness and as a by-product, offer life, freedom and forgiveness to the same people who killed you. Help our first reaction to be that of love - and not retribution.

(HT to DG)

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