I found a great quote recently in Jayakumar Christian’s God of the Empty-Handed. It is from Walter Wink:
“Jesus, in short, abhors both passivity and violence. He articulates…a way by which evil can be opposed without being mirrored, the oppressor resisted without being emulated, and the enemy neutralised without being destroyed.”
Jesus is all about resistance, but it is always nonviolent. The fact we must get deep into our hearts is that Jesus is never about being walked over. Love is never about being trampled on. It is an active walking with Jesus in submission to God. Injustice is to be resisted because it is not of God. But, again, the resistance is always to be nonviolent. If that means having someone strike you on the cheek so be it; we offer them the proverbial other cheek as well (for a proper explanation of what Jesus was actually referring to when he said to turn the other cheek, and how his first century hearers would have understood it, see Steve Chalke’s The Lost Message of Jesus).
Many of us have grown up in churches where to be Christian is to be ‘nice’. But as Dan Allender has said, Jesus said we would be known by our love, not by our manners. Love always seeks the good of the other, and often that means being nice. but if you’re anything like me, your niceness will often be about protecting yourself from possible rejection. It will be more about people-pleasing than loving. Love doesn’t worry about what other people will think. It just goes ahead and does good. That’s why Jesus would let no one, not even Herod, get in the way of his work for the kingdom. He was not going to be sidelined by threats from the powerful.
It is not easy living the Christian life. We are constantly in tension with the ways of power and status all around. Sometimes people will see Christ in us and other times they will not. Sometimes we wil come across as the fragrance of life and other times we will come across as the fragrance of death. John Smith said once that a good measure of your walk with Christ is to look at who your enemies are. If your enemies are the powerful and those who exploit, then you will most likely be walking in the way of Jesus. But if your enemies are the poor, the weak, and the people often called ‘nobodies’, you are almost certainly not following the Jesus of the gospels. God give me courage to resist that which is evil and the humility to submit to You.
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