It's when we think that they're small that we let our guard down and satan enters our hearts.
I encountered another spiritual attack today, at the end of my second shift. I feel very tempted to stand up for myself and administer some of my own personal justice. I want to let these people know that they are wrong, and that I'm not a fool who doesn't notice what they do and say regarding me.
If someone wrongs you, isn't totally understandable to want to stand up for yourself? To fight back, give tit for tat, make yourself look good and reveal their mistakes to everyone else?
27"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.Driving down Bass Road toward home, I was already rehearsing what I would say to the people who made the mistake of messing with me. The old high-school self was rising in my heart, with the same sharp, merciless words I've used so often in the past to cut down enemies (or friends who made the mistake of going against me). That old self hasn't been back in a while and it was deceptively refreshing to feel the old anger in me again. I felt so smug about how I would let them know I had been on to their lies, and that they could do what they wanted but would not have the pleasure of thinking I was a fool.
32"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. 33And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. 34And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. 35But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.37"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
Gospel of Luke, chapter 6 ***
God is stronger than my sinful nature, and His peace and wisdom overcome the cleverest of satan's attacks. He broke through my pride and malicious plans, right through my self-righteousness and anger to remind me
I am no better than them.
But for His redemptive work on the cross and that blessed empty tomb, I am no better off than the people around me with the more obvious sins.. the not-so-socially-acceptable sins. None of us are.
I am humbled now, 30 minutes later. I will go back to work tomorrow and work as hard as I can for Christ in the restaurant. I will love each one of those people who are difficult and those who are easy to love. My choice to live a distinct life as a Christian is not dependent on the actions of unbelievers. My faith in Christ may be small, but it is bigger than that.
I just needed the reminder.
*** (Reading this passage in Luke reminded me of an excerpt from The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne, where he refers to Walter Wink's work about Jesus's teaching on justice. You can read Wink's work here. Shane says,
Taking about the familiar "turn the other cheek" verses, Wink points out that Jesus is [...] pointing us toward something that imaginatively disarms others. When hit on the cheek, turn and look the person in the eye. Do not cower and do not punch them back. Make sure they look into your eyes and see your sacred humanity, and it will become increasingly hard for them to hurt you. When someone tries to sue you for the coat on your back [...] go ahead and take all of your clothes off and hand them over, exposing the sickness of their greed. [...] It is here that we see a Jesus who abhors both passivity and violence, who carves out a third way that is neither submission nor assault, neither fight nor flight. It is this third way.I urge you to pick up a copy of The Irresistible Revolution and read it cover to cover, with a highlighter and a notepad. If you can't get one, I bet my delightful roommate would be glad to lend you hers (she's the one who suggested the book to me). The excerpt I just shared starts on page 279.