The Mission of God: The Way of Jesus
Within a 24-hour period Jesus was: (1) lied about (Mark 14:56); (2) spit upon (Matt. 26:67); (3) beaten (Mark 14:65); (4) made fun of (Luke 23:11); (5) unjustly convicted (Matt. 27:22-23); (6) flogged (Mark 15:15); (7) stripped naked (Matt. 27:28); (8) clubbed on the head (Matt. 27:30) (9) disowned by his closest friend (Mark 14:71); and (10) murdered (Mark 15:37). *How does he respond? He asks for something to drink (John 19:28) and then he forgives (Luke 23:34, 43).
Did Jesus have a choice to do something else? Of course! See Matt. 26:53.
Yet, Jesus states that the only ones worthy of following him will do the same as he did (Matt. 10:38-39).
This opportunity presents itself to followers of Jesus everyday in many, many ways.
Does this mean you are to be a doormat? No!
We always name the wrong, we always seek systems of justice to prevent pain & oppression and even turning the other cheek is form of courageous resistance.
Forgiveness is a step toward true justice and reconciliation. Forgiveness is not reconciliation itself. One may forgive and not reconcile.
If nothing else, we must always remind ourselves that justice will be done (Romans 12:14-21).
Without forgiveness darkness and evil spread.
“Nobody is more dangerous than a victim.” Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be
“It is a fact that cannot be denied: the wickedness of others becomes our own wickedness because it kindles something evil in our own hearts.” Carl Jung.
Thus, forgiveness is a powerful form of repentance.
“For a victim to repent means not to allow the oppressors to determine the terms under which social conflict is carried out.” Miroslav Volf Exclusion and Embrace
“Victims need to repent of the fact that all too often they mimic the behavior of the oppressors, let themselves be shaped in the mirror image of the enemy.” Miroslav Volf Exclusion and Embrace
Such an approach may still frighten you.
After all, it means suffering, it means looking “weak”, it means potentially being taken advantage of.
Moreover, where do you take your anger? To God. The Psalms are filled with angry shouts to God! (See Psalms 7, 35, 55, 58, 59, 69, 79, 109, 137 and 139).
Even if we die at the hands of evil, the resurrection of Jesus and the promise of a resurrection for each of his followers means that love wins. Love always wins!
Peter Rollins records a parable, in How (Not) To Speak of God, of a lone priest in a remote church who late one nights receives a visit from the Devil himself.
Satan asks to come into the sanctuary and the priest welcomes him. Lucifer begins to destory the inside of the church while the priest prays on his knees in peace.
The devil then demands a meal, which the priest graciously supplies while the demon curses him.
After devouring the meal, Satan asks the priest for one more thing.
“Of couse,” says the priest, “whatever is mine is yours.”
“I want your heart!” demands Lucifer. “Of course,” says the priest but then Satan walked into the night disheartened because he knew he could not enter the priest’s heart for there was no room for him there.
Followers of Jesus need to stop mirroring a broken, fallen world caught in a spiral of hate and violence by keeping their eye on a horizon in which, in the end, love wins. Love always wins.