How to turn the other cheek when you crave an eye for an eye.
Bonhoeffer opens this chapter by stating this passage of scripture is “an elaboration of the beatitudes”.
“He [Jesus] calls them blessed because they are meek. If after giving up everything else for his sake they still wanted to cling to their own rights, they would then have ceased to follow him.”
We either follow Christ or we don’t.
NO. MIDDLE. GROUND.
Therefore, we must lay down our rights, even when our flesh desires justice, because this is what it means to follow Christ.
Contrary to OT law of retribution, Jesus says the way to overcome evil “is not to resist it.”
“When a Christian meets with injustice, he no longer clings to his rights and defends them at all costs. He is absolutely free from possessions and bound to Christ alone.”
To be bound to Christ alone.
We can talk a good game about surrendering all.
But in times of persecution, our hearts reveal what we are bound to.
But how does turning the other cheek defeat evil? That seems utterly absurd.
To answer this, you need to look at Christ. How did Christ suffering and dying on the cross defeat evil?
Simple, Christ’s sacrifice took the sting out of death. When we know Him, death holds no real power.
The same holds true regardless of the crime committed against us. There is nothing we can suffer more powerful or hurtful than the shame, degradation and suffering Jesus willingly endured on the cross. And in the end, He has the Victory…not death, not sin and not satan!
This same victory can be ours as well.
Think of it this way, if embers are not fed, they eventually die out.
“Evil becomes a spent force when we put up no resistance. By refusing to pay back the enemy in his own coin, and by preferring to suffer without resistance… Violence stands condemned by its failure to evoke counter-violence. When a man unjustly demands that I should give him my coat, I offer him my cloak also, and so counter his demand…the exclusiveness of this adherence is the only power which can overcome evil.”
Love overcomes evil.
Light trumps darkness.
And Christ conquered death.
“The cross is the only power in the world which proves that suffering love can avenge and vanquish evil.”
We are partakers of Christ’s sufferings.
“Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.” John 15:20NIV
In this life we will have times we feel justified to retaliate. There will also be times our flesh screams at us to “DO SOMETHING”. But that is not the way of a Disciple.
I’ve been reading about Moses. This man is beyond self-less in my opinion. On numerous occasions he prays for the people who are disrespecting him and God.
In Numbers 21 the people (yet again) complain. Before Moses has time to intercede on their behalf, God slams them with “fiery serpents”. They realize AGAIN they have messed up. They ask Moses to pray for them and he does.
I personally would have been really tempted (and probably would have caved to this temptation) to let them get stung a few more times before I prayed for them. But that’s not Moses.
Repeatedly Moses looks out for the thick headed Israelites. He’s self-less. He responds in love, not justice. He answers with mercy, not retribution.
To me, Moses is a great example of someone following God’s way and not his own.
“They are called blessed because of their visible participation in his cross.”
No questions this week, just share your thoughts.