The Wounded Healer

All who desire to change the world must work from within their on-going process of growth. The strong desire to reform and restore is clearly from God, but addressing the shortcomings of others rather than oneself is not a leading of the Spirit. In fact, instead of rectifying our own inner failings and then turning to what is amiss in others, whatever help we genuinely give comes from inside our own struggles. We help others from our experience of woundedness and healing. When we humbly focus on ourselves, and are honest about what God is doing in us, we are able to assist others. Anything we attempt to offer to others that we have not personally labored through is presumptive and speculative.

Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. Hebrews 5:8

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

The teaching of Jesus comes from his own personal struggle with the temptations and weaknesses which are common to us all. We should not think that his sinlessness somehow means he does not know and understand what we face, which would be to dismiss what these scriptures are actually saying. Jesus helps us out of his own inner spiritual work. Being sinless does not imply he had no struggle or process of growth to undergo! The wilderness temptations of Jesus, to prioritize the needs of the body, to worship someone or thing other than God, and to gain the world at the cost of one’s soul, are representative of the challenges we all face.

Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. John 5:19

Not only does Jesus teach us from his own wrestling with evil’s temptations but also from knowing firsthand what is needed to maintain and sustain a life of abiding with God. All that Jesus offers comes from within his own “growing in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). His example ought to show us the way to delve into our inner depths and let others benefit from that journey. Apart from our own experience of transformation we should say nothing.

This is not true only for each of us individually but for us together as the church. Collectively, we speak of the salvation we have received and witness to what transformation has been granted us. Only a repentant and confessional church, disclosing its own struggles as a testimony to God’s grace and faithfulness, may proclaim a message of healing to the world.

Jude warns of those who are like clouds without rain (Jude 1:12). We can easily be all talk without any real substance. The inner source which Jesus describes as a well of living water within a person (John 4:14) is when the work of God within flows outward. That inner spring is not just the Spirit itself, but the renewal that the Spirit has created within. We become the fruit of the Spirit’s work and we help others with the authenticity of our own spiritual labors. Because of his experience and struggle, Jesus is able to offer us true guidance rather than trite and empty platitudes.

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

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Asking And Receiving

When James says “you do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2) some claim that he means God wanted to give, would have given, but we simply forgot to ask. God was willing to bless us, but we didn’t pray. Therefore, we should always ask in prayer because God will not give what is good, that which we need, and what he intends to grant, unless and until we make a request. The reasoning for this is that God ‘wants his children to ask.’

Though this may sound somewhat plausible, I suspect it makes us far better parents to our children than God is to us. How many of us would consider this to be appropriate parenting? We teach our children to say “thank you” for what they are given, but do we give nothing until they ask? No, we give them the good things they need whether they ask or not, while teaching them to be grateful and attempting to show them what is truly good. The problem is children want what pleases them, like ice cream, but not what is beneficial for them, like a variety of vegetables.

James is not telling us that prayer is the secret key to unlocking God’s blessings. Fortunately, God is good to us even when we do not ask. Instead, James is encouraging us to be diligent in seeking what is good, in other words, to pursue and desire what God gives. His urging is similar to how Jesus encourages us to ask, seek, and knock (Matthew 7:7-8). The problem is that what we do not want may be what is truly good. We may not notice or even reject what God is giving us precisely because it is not what we wanted nor asked for.

When we come empty-handed, we never leave the same. But too often we are full, hands and heart, mind and imagination, with no room for God to give us anything new and needed. Our failure to “ask” indicates that we are not even seeking. The opening, the letting go, the humbling of ourselves to be the penitent, the beggar, and the powerless, is not only difficult, but is hindered by our belief that we know what we need.

You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. James 4:3

The wrong motives regarding our seeking and asking are not only that we want to gratify our personal desires, but that we are focused on our desires and not God’s. We want what we want, the things that would please us. We are motivated to petition only for our own wishes, what we believe is good. Unable to imagine better gifts than the ones we want, we pray only according to our desires and not for whatever God would give.

Instead, let us ask, humbly and without preconceived ideas, for God to give according to his wisdom. God desires only what is for our good. Asking in this open manner, your will be done, means that we never lack and eventually our desires will align more and more with those of God.

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Parables and Love

When Jesus explains to his disciples why he speaks to the crowds in parables, without deciphering their meaning, he says that it is because they have not been “granted” to understand the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 13:11). On the surface, his words seem to suggest that he is deliberately keeping this knowledge from the people, or that God is not enabling them to understand.

In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,
‘You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
For the heart of this people has become dull,
With their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.’
Matthew 13:14-15

However, Jesus cites Isaiah where the prophet says that the fault lies with an unwilling and stubborn audience, not a capricious God. The “dullness” of heart is not a condition created by God, and one which God has sought to change. The people can “scarcely hear” by their own choice and inattentiveness, and have closed their eyes against seeing. We may still wonder why, even if the people have chosen to be unhearing and unseeing, Jesus would apparently respond to their stubbornness by being obtuse. Is this spiteful payback for their unwillingness to listen? I believe the opposite to be true.

To a people who are reluctant to hear, speaking plainly will not have any effect because of their attitude. On the other hand, hinting at truths through elusive parables, confounding statements, and puzzling paradoxes, may actually make them curious enough to draw them into engaging when they are not inclined to listen. When we do not desire to hear the truth, we may be enticed by a tantalizing story. Jesus is not hiding knowledge from those who are dull of hearing, himself acting as stubborn as they are, but rather he is adopting an approach to garner their interest.

God is always shining his light for all those in darkness. His varied ways of doing this demonstrate his loving persistence. Even when we resist and refuse to listen, God tries to entice us out of our intransigence. This is the love of God acting out of wisdom and compassion.

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Oppressive Structures

They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. Matthew 23:4

In Matthew 23 we hear Jesus’ criticism of the scribes and Pharisees, architects and keepers of the prevailing religious system of his day. We could say he is addressing a systemic problem regarding how people are being instructed to live godly lives. Jesus’ first accusation, that what they require is burdensome, is followed by a second, that they are uninterested in doing anything to help those who suffer as a result.

These religious leaders have created and sustain the system that labels many as “sinners” and “unclean”, the same people that Jesus was vilified for welcoming. The spiritual order which they created oppressed many, and Jesus accuses them of not even lifting a finger to help, that is, having no interest in changing it.

But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them. Matthew 23:13

The present arrangement gives these leaders an exalted position in society with recognition and places of honor (Matthew 23:5-7), while others suffer. The kingdom of heaven, according to Jesus, is not like this at all. These scribes and Pharisees are not living according to God’s reign, and they really do not want that kingdom to come. If God’s ways were practiced on earth as in heaven, they would lose their advantageous social positions. Therefore, they seek to prevent others from going into the kingdom and living according to a new order of love, mercy, justice, and righteousness. A world of that type would strip them of their status and power.

As we listen to Jesus criticizing the keepers of the status quo in his day, we should be cognizant of the same possibility for oppressive spiritual and social arrangements in our day. Such problems may exist in any time and typically those who are burdened by the system are told to simply take individual responsibility to improve, while nothing is done to address the prevailing structures that make it hard, or perhaps impossible, to do so. Jesus certainly taught each person to do what was right, to take responsible action, but he also chastised the leaders of the religious structures of his day for not doing anything to unburden the people. He taught that everyone needs to strive to follow the ways of God, but also saw that the pervasive structures were created cynically to serve the powerful and make it harder for ordinary people.

The kingdom of God which Jesus announced challenges the existing systems and structures with a vision of what is truly just, merciful, and loving, while also calling each person to righteous living. His prophetic stance urges both the individual to repentance and holy living, and the systems that society constructs to account and reformation. The church should do likewise today.

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Sins of the Fathers

Ezekiel preached during the years of Israel’s captivity in Babylon, and he addresses at length the complaint of some that God was being unjust because they complained that the children were suffering for the sins of their fathers. In response, Ezekiel makes it clear that each individual, father or son, is accountable for his own actions.

Know that all lives are mine; the life of the parent as well as the life of the child is mine: it is only the person who sins that shall die. Ezekiel 18:4

According to Ezekiel, each person answers to God for his or her own deeds, even though collectively Israel was in captivity due to generations of unfaithfulness to God. Ezekiel assured his contemporaries that they live or die before God based on their own individual actions, even if their circumstances involve suffering due to the sins of those who lived before them.

Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. So you are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors; for they killed them, and you build their tombs. Luke 11:47-48

Jesus criticized the religious leaders of his day, indicting them for continuing, with their current actions, the sins of those who had gone before. Jesus disputes that adorning the tombs of the prophets is enough to separate themselves from the sins of those who killed them. While the religious leaders of his day would have protested that they truly honor the prophets, Jesus declares that they still stand, by their own deeds, unrepentantly as the descendants of the prophets’ murderers.

From the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation. Luke 11:51

How can Jesus say that the leaders of his day will be charged with the murder of Abel? Cain killed him! Does Jesus not agree with Ezekiel’s teaching that each person is accountable for his or her own actions?

In fact, Jesus does agree with Ezekiel. However, a person’s actions for which they are accountable include how they respond to the sins committed by others who lived before them. The only way for the religious leaders to truly honor the prophets, the very ones their ancestors killed, is to believe in Jesus. He is the descendant of the prophets, and they have to decide if they will do as their ancestors did or not. Of course, they will continue the sins of their fathers by murdering him too. This makes them guilty with Cain and everyone after him who killed the righteous.

The question for us is not what kind of people were those who lived in the past, but what kind of people will we be? If we perhaps see more clearly than those of an earlier era, regarding sins both individual and collective, we cannot excuse their misdeeds by citing the cultural context of their day, nor can we judge them as to whether their sins were intentional evil or due to ignorance. God does that. We are responsible for what we do now regarding the sins of the past.

And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Matthew 23:30

Jesus did not believe the claims of the religious leaders of his day and he may not believe us either simply based on our assertion we would have never acted like those who lived before us. The proof will be in what we actually do today. Unless we reject the sins of the past by doing differently in our time we continue in the same evil tradition. While we cannot give an account for the actions of others who lived before us, we are accountable for what we do now, specifically whether we continue, downplay, or instead repent of the wrongs of our forefathers and do what is righteous.

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This Generation

When Jesus wanted to offer a general critique, describing what he believed was wrong with the society of his day, he spoke of “this generation”. He was not referring to a particular age-group within society as we might be talk about baby-boomers or millennials. Instead, he was speaking about the whole body of people of all ages in his time and place. This was his language for talking about what is fundamentally wrong with society. Certainly, he knows that there are many exceptions, such as his own disciples. However, he is not interested in a nuanced assessment but in a blunt and sweeping prophetic critique of the general spiritual ills of his day.

In this regard, Jesus declares that his generation cannot be pleased no matter who comes speaking the truth (Matthew 11:6), that it is skeptical and obsessed with futile sign-seeking (Matthew 12:39), that it remains stubbornly unrepentant (Matthew 12:41), and will inevitably end up under greater influence of demonic powers (Matthew 12:45). He claims also that the society of this time is largely uninterested in wisdom (Luke 11:31) and will consequently reject him (Luke 17:25). It is no wonder, then, that Peter’s call on Pentecost is for his listeners to “save yourselves from this wicked generation” (Acts 2:40)!

We might start to wonder if these statements are too harsh and unfairly generalized. Were the problems that Jesus saw so ingrained in the structures, practices, and thinking of that society that he could truthfully speak so broadly? 

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16

Let me suggest that the “days” or “generations” have been, and will always be, evil. Seeing ourselves as aliens and exiles in this world is the only way to live as Christ in any generation (1 Peter 2:11, Hebrews 11:13-16). A certain degree of detachment, and consequently an ability to see and critique the inherent corruption in the world, is necessary to escape it and for participation in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). The followers of Jesus can not afford to be seduced and possessed by a spirit of naïveté about evil in the world. That lying spirit would make us prey once again to the corruption from which we escaped (2 Peter 2:20). As disciples of the crucified outcast, we cannot become full participants, advocates, and defenders of the status quo of any society in any age . . . for every generation is corrupt.

Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come. Hebrews 13:12-14

Jesus is not unmerciful, ungracious, or unloving in his assessment of his generation. Love cannot fail to speak out against what is consuming the people of God. Jesus is not condemning his fellow Jews for being within a generation they did not choose, but he is naming the stifling attitudes, which are the evil spirits, that are keeping them from life in God’s Kingdom. Jesus uses this bold and sweeping language to awaken the consciences of his hearers, and hopefully ours as well.

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Corrupt Religion

In Luke 13:10-16 we have an account of Jesus healing a woman on the sabbath in a synagogue. Predictably, the leader of the synagogue was displeased, but he chastised the crowd rather than Jesus.

But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” Luke 13:14

The synagogue leader emphasized to the woman and anyone else who might have an illness that this is not the time to be healed. The sabbath is a day for worshiping God, saying prayers, reading scripture, but not a day for the “work” of being cured. Notice Jesus’ twofold response.

But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water?  And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” Luke 13:15-16

First, Jesus points out that such thinking acknowledges more readily the needs of animals than people. In showing more care for animals than for people, this perverse perspective denies the place of humans, because they bear the image of God, in the created order. The synagogue laws had made sabbath-keeping a repudiation of God’s creative work. The so-called sacred day of rest desecrates the order established in the six days of creation. How can people honor God on the seventh day, when repudiating the work from which he was said to rest? Jesus’ argument is devastating and pointed, but he is not finished.

Next, Jesus claims that he himself is engaged in spiritual warfare, the conflict between light and darkness, between God and Satan. He declares that Satan has bound this woman. Shockingly, if we hear the implication of what Jesus is saying, the synagogue rules forbid anyone from undoing Satan’s work because it is the sabbath! So corrupt had the observance of the sabbath become, and the popular understanding of piety, that those seeking to be righteous were essentially aiding and abetting the work of Satan! God’s holy sabbath was not a time to oppose evil or rescue those oppressed by Satan, but a day for them to stay under the power of darkness. If the sabbath was not a day to oppose Satan and free those oppressed by evil, what does that say about the God who is worshiped on this day? Jesus has no doubt about the God he worships, the God whose day this is, and the necessity to oppose evil on this sacred day.

Do I really need to draw the parallels for the church? Are we, as churches, by and large that different from the synagogues of Jesus’ day? Do our norms of religious propriety make us more reflective of the God we claim to worship than the synagogue laws? Too often, I fear we are not.

Far too often the church has failed to uphold the truth that all people are created in the image of God. I am not talking about the “created equal” language of our nation’s founding document. Equality is a poor substitute for the biblical language of bearing God’s image. Even if we practiced a belief that all men are created equal, we would not be living according to the faith spoken of in scripture. Having inalienable rights is not the same as being image-bearers of God. If we do not honor God’s image in one another can we claim to honor God?

To our collective shame, the powers of darkness have too readily taken hold in the church so that religious people have often failed to see and oppose the works of Satan. Christians have not always answered in the affirmative the question posed by Jesus, “Ought not this person bound by Satan be set free?” 

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Jesus And Resisting Evil

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. Matthew 5:38-41

Jesus is not telling us to simply accept mistreatment, though at first it may sound that way. When he says “do not resist an evildoer”, he is rejecting the common retaliatory response of “an eye for an eye”. Instead, Jesus envisions a different type of resistance to evil, which he explains in three practical examples, tailored to the context and culture of his day.

The first situation describes a back-handed slap of insult, the only way a right-handed person could strike another person on the right cheek. Jesus says one ought to turn the other cheek, which does not invite them to do it again but actually makes it impossible for the same slap to be given. Try it. Turn your left cheek toward a supposed assailant and you will see it is impossible for them to slap you again. 

This action resists their aggression without being retaliatory. The insulting person will have to strike with a fist if they want to hit again, which in Jesus’ day, as in ours, puts them in violation of the law. Now their action is assault and not insult. This is the nonviolent resistance that Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King learned from Jesus – to present the offenders with the dilemma to either cease their evil actions or violate the law.

Consider the second example and this Jewish law:

If you take your neighbor’s cloak in pledge, you shall restore it before the sun goes down; for it may be your neighbor’s only clothing to use as cover; in what else shall that person sleep? And if your neighbor cries out to me, I will listen, for I am compassionate. Exodus 22:26-27

God had forbidden keeping another person’s cloak, even if one received it as a pledge. Since the cloak had to be returned by evening, Jesus’ advice is to give the evildoer what is unlawful for them to keep. Since they are trying to take everything from you, giving the cloak highlights their unjust desires, and the one suing now has to refuse to take the cloak or violate the law. The evildoer switches from seeking to take whatever they can to pleading that one take back one’s cloak. 

Jesus’ final example addressed Jewish interactions with the occupying Roman soldiers. Going a second mile with the soldier’s pack was not a matter of simple kindness, but put the Roman soldier in the awkward position of having to beg the bearer to stop. A soldier could get in trouble for forcing a local person to carry the load beyond what was lawful. Once again, Jesus describes nonviolent resistance to what is wrong, and the response cleverly reveals the evil of what is happening. 

In all three instances, Jesus is saying that we should never retaliate in kind. He does not want us to find a passive-aggressive way to hurt those hurting us, nor does he want us to simply accept mistreatment. Instead, when understood within the cultural and social context of his day, we see that Jesus is teaching nonviolent noncooperation. The way to resist should highlight the injustice which is occurring without doing something equally unjust. His responses make evident the evil for what it is, not only to the perpetrator, but to others to awaken their consciences.  

As happened finally with the Roman persecution of Christians, toward the end of British rule in India, and during the Civil Rights Movement in America, some of those doing wrong became ashamed of their actions. Many others saw what was happening and became aware of the injustices. The mistreatment of those who were resisting peacefully, doing as Jesus taught, finally brought about change through nonviolent resistance. 

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James On Justice

If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. James 2:15-17

Despite appearances, I do not think James is ultimately talking about helping others with food and clothes. He is reasoning with us so that what is obvious in one context should prompt us to reach the same conclusion in other matters as well. He assumes we recognize the necessity to help others with what their bodies require, and how it would be ridiculous to wish people well while neglecting to aid them in any real manner. But his real purpose is to get us to see that wishing people well in any matter, without really doing anything substantial to help them, is just as irresponsible and incomprehensible.

His concluding point is that the content of what we believe in, the apparent concerns of our faith, must result in new ways of treating others. These are the works that must accompany faith and be the practice of all we claim to believe in, or else our faith is essentially lifeless.

What is the impetus of James’ call for works to accompany our faith? Notice the subject that James had previously discussed in his letter.

My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? James 2:1-4

James has been talking about discrimination and its opposite, favoritism, with regard to a person’s social class, whether they are rich or poor. His haunting opening question is do we, if we show favoritism, actually believe in Jesus. The answer is clearly “no”.

The same could be said about discrimination and favoritism involving race, education, gender, or anything else. James, the brother of our Lord, says that the making of distinctions among ourselves happens because we are “judges with evil thoughts”. This judging is a prejudice based on what is irrelevant in the Kingdom of God, and results in discrimination. The evil thought patterns involve both any reckoning of human value based on such characteristics, and the process of reasoning that leads us to discriminate against people on this basis. Diversity exists both because of God’s creation and human actions, but none of it is a cause to discriminate. To treat people differently on these grounds is a denial that we all bear the image of God, experience the indwelling of the Spirit of God, and that Christ died for all.

James is not a writer who is subtle. Such distorted, corrupt reasoning is evil and of the devil and not God. It is evil, but obviously common in the world and in the church. If only the church James addresses were the only one! His words ought to prompt us not to be defensive but to examine ourselves humbly.

James, though pointing out the evil thoughts and judgments of some, does not then discriminate against those who have discriminated against the poor. He is teaching and calling them to raise their actions to reflect a true living faith, but he is not running them out of the church because they have shown favoritism. He calls for more just treatment of the poor but not for mistreating those who have been wrong in how they mistreated the poor. James is the one who tells us, sandwiched between his condemnation of discrimination and call for works to accompany our faith, that “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). An enthusiasm to root out discrimination and prejudice cannot become a new occasion of its propagation. 

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Impractical Love

With the current events that are happening in our world, the injustice, conflict, hateful rhetoric which often incites harm against others, and erupting violence, the way of Jesus is truly being tested. Many will find it wanting. Those who seek a pragmatic strategy will dismiss it as ineffectual and impractical. Everyone agrees that love is a wonderful way to live, but once evil looms out into the open, the use of force suddenly looks like a savior and not the demon that spawned what threatens us. Love is too loving, gentle, kind, hopeful, and selfless to bring real change or to be of any use.

In times as these the temptation has always been to become pragmatic, in others words, to do “what works”. The love of Christ, love for neighbor and enemy, irrespective of who they are, not simply a sentimental notion but the love of positive action of their benefit and not our own, seems inadequate when others are employing destructive force. Love seems puny against hate, and hardly a means to change the world.

The misuse of power is evident when those who are sworn to serve and protect inflict casual but deadly cruelty, and also when those who feel powerless against the prevalence of systemic injustice, seize the opportunity to exercise a vengeance through senseless destruction and chaos. How does love, in a real way, overcome systemic evil that corrupts our society and the siren call to reactive destructive anger?

I am not talking about restoring order, but what happens next. I am not talking about the immediate, but the long-term. The hot war becomes a cold war, until a spark ignites it again. The opposing sides entrench, ready to launch new salvos at one another. The racially prejudiced will be even more confirmed in their fear and feel justified in being suspicious of minorities. They will be all the more ready to call authorities on someone walking, running, or simply being in a park. People who live with the constant pressure of systemic injustice will be even more convinced that only a forceful rising up will bring any change.

But love, as taught by Christ (though he is not the only teacher of it) can begin to bring real change. Violence of any sort incites more of the same. Someone has to lay down arms, or stretch them out on a cross, be a peacemaker, and refuse to continue the cycle of reprisals. Some will say this burden is on minorities, and others on those in positions of power and authority. Because we are Christians, we should say that this is on us, no matter who we are. We are the disciples of Jesus, the peacemakers who pledge ourselves to the redeeming love of Jesus and salvation of the world. We are the imitators of Christ. We do not tell others that they need to imitate Jesus, but know we must do it ourselves.

I am not listing here the many actual ways that we should practice Christ’s love, but emphasizing that we scrutinize all that is being said and to look for the specifics that embody selfless love for others. Beware of those who recommend more “practical” means, courses of action which compromise on love. Though they may claim that these will lead to good ends, only love brings peace. Injustice cannot give birth to justice, and violence never brings peace. But the way of love will be widely criticized as foolishly impractical.

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