Sunday, April 10, 2005

Resisting Evil with Good

Today we were studying the Non-Resistance passages of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. You remember them don't you? Turn the other cheek, give not only your tunic but also your cloak to the one who is suing you, go two miles with anyone who forces you to go one mile, and give to those who ask from you. These are four "case studies" on the command of Jesus - "Do not resist." While these words are easy to understand - ask a child what they mean if you are confused - they are extremely difficult to practice.

Friday night my college devotional was on this same topic - and a lively discussion resulted from the class concerning the possibility (or impossibility) of obeying Jesus. I am also reading "The Divine Conspiracy" by Dallas Willard and he spends a lot of time with this material. So most of the week I have been thinking about Jesus' ethic of non-resistance. Last night I was dropping Leanna off at the entry to our building and another car approached in front of me. Since the road is narrow, two cars cannot pass without one leaving the road. While Leanna was exiting the car, the other car pulled up and almost touched my bumper. There was room on his side for a car to pull out of the way, but in the place where I was there was no room. I honked the horn and waved him off. In reply he honked and waved me off. I thought "What a jerk!" But then I backed up and let him pass - but I was not happy about it! I then parked the car in the garage and walked home. It occurred to me while I was fuming about that inconsiderate guy that I was successful in teaching the ethic of non-resistance, but I was failing living it! And all I had experienced was a honking horn and a mean look, not a slap or a cross!

Dallas Willard says that people who think it is impossible to obey Jesus' non-resistance ethic are right - because they assume that they will have to obey it without fundamental change in themselves. "You cannot stay the same and live in this non-resistance lifestyle." That is why Jesus demands a new birth. We are not the same as we once were, that is why we can live like Jesus.

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