Resist evil

Eagle Cap Wilderness

Eagle Cap Wilderness, Wallowas, Oregon

“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. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”

Matthew 5:38-41

The Slap: The most grievous insult possible in the ancient world
The Coat: Loss of possessions through legal means or authorities
The Mile: Exploitation of the helpless

I love my book club because every week we get to discuss things in light of how Jesus thinks about them, which is often contrary to how I think about them.

We are reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “The Cost of Discipleship” with this week’s chapter covering “Revenge” with Matthew 5:38-41 as it’s foundation.

Some quotes that stood out, include …

“The only way to overcome evil is to let it run itself to a standstill because it does not find the resistance it is looking for.”

“By willingly renouncing self-defence, the Christian affirms his absolute adherence to Jesus, and his freedom from the tyranny of his own ego.”

“… the cross is the only justification for the precept of non-violence, for it alone can kindle a faith in the victory over evil, which will enable men to obey that precept.”

Three different concepts to think about and act on when circumstances of evil arise.

For me, this means, acknowledging the evil done, making a conscious decision against any retribution and laying it at the cross of Jesus.

For me, my battle is not just with the evil doer but also often takes place within my own heart and it’s insistence on being ‘right’ and in charge and in control … indeed, there is a tyranny within me.

For me, I must trust Jesus who acts on my behalf in such mysterious ways. Cast my cares on him?  Even evil doers?  It all seems obscure until I see the outcome played out in my life down the line … after the fact, I realize He was right all along.

Only in our complete identity with Christ and in the abandonment of our personal rights … can we truly resist evil.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born in Breslau in 1906. The son of a famous German psychiatrist, he studied in Berlin and New York City. He left the safety of America to return to Germany and continue his public repudiation of the Nazis, which led to his arrest in 1943.  Linked to the group of conspirators whose attempted assassination of Hitler failed, he was hanged in April 1945.

The Cost of Discipleship was published in 1937.


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