Some thoughts on dealing with the violence that plagues our society.
Matthew writes Jesus saying, “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 an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. ”
Paul writes in Romans, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ Now, ‘if you enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’ Do not be overcome by evil; but overcome evil with good.”
I bring these two passages to your mind as I write this the day after the high school shooting in Parkland, FL where 17 people have lost their lives. A 19 year old former student pulled a fire alarm and began shooting people as they exited the building. Another senseless tragedy potentially evoking from us the same kind of rage that drove this person to pull the trigger multiple times to the tragic end of many.
A person on Facebook asked, “What can we do?” Her question echoed the forlorning in my spirit and frustration in my mind.
What can we do? What do Christ-followers do in the face of that which cannot be fully understood? We begin by turning to the One who fully understands. We go to God to express our outrage, our concern, our frustration, our helplessness, our pain, and our vulnerability. God listens to us. God shares our outraged, concern, frustration, helplessness, pain, and vulnerability. When we have cried our eyes out and our shuddering of our sobbing bodies has ceased, God begins to whisper in the quiet.
God tells us He with us. God reminds us He was with those the gunmen shot down. God reminds us he loves us, the victims, and even the victimizer. God says to you and me, “I love you. I love those who lost their lives. I even love the young man that was twisted into the shape that made for this violence. I love…and I will redeem.”
I will redeem. This is a part of my faith that I often forget. We trust God for a lot in our lives, but do we trust that ultimately God will redeem—that God will make things right? Often I want to take justice into my own hands and deliver it in a fashion that “matches the crime”—whatever that means. But God asks us to drop our “rights” for revenge and trust Him to set things straight.
But God, ever looking to move us forward and growing in faith asks us to go one step farther. The above passages do not call us to pacifism. They call us to creative resistance. When Jesus says, “Do not resist an evildoer,” he is saying do not resist an evil doer with violence. He is saying, as his examples show, exercise creative resistance. As Paul says, this creative resistance overcomes evil with good.
What good can we do in light of evil? What light can we bear into this darkness? How is God moving you to respond in a way that brings healing, peace, life, and hope for everyone involved? Who do you need to reach out and touch with the love of God in Christ Jesus?
God bless you as you move into deeper discipleship and a closer walk with our Lord,