“Do not repay anyone evil for evil . . . Don’t be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12
I’ve been wrestling with how to respond to Charlottesville and especially to the alt-right event in my city (San Francisco) this weekend. The easy thing would be to be overcome by the evil demon of hatred for the lunatics that wave confederate flags, don riot gear, and carry weapons and shouting “Jews won’t replace us!” That’s what my lower nature wants to do, repay hate with hate, even though Jesus prohibits it. That’s the definition letting evil overcome me, i.e. come over me, seep inside me and ruin me.
Jesus said labeling people “raca” gets us into trouble with God and with one another (Matthew 5). It’s an Aramaic word that is probably best translated “empty” or “worthless.” Jon Carlson said, “When we insist that others are ‘raca,’ that others are empty and worthless because they’ve given themselves over to evil, we don’t defeat their evil. We actually endanger ourselves, feeding into the very destructive tendencies we wish to overthrow.” That’s what it means to be “overcome by evil,” when we take on their evil by hating them with the same hate with which they hate us. Continue reading →
After Charlottesville’s disaster on Saturday, while waiting in my car for some friends with whom I was going into the park to try to love some people toward Jesus, I broke into tears. I just sat there and cried––overcome by the sadness of it all.
I’m appalled and grieved by the demonically inspired hate that one group of humans can have for another, by that hate turning violent and murderous, by our President’s wet noodle, obfuscating seesaw remarks about it, and by the adolescent rhetoric and sloganizing that, predictably, has followed in the media.
Let’s be clear, this isn’t about “free speech.” You can’t have “free speech” if someone brings a gun to intimidate those they despise. You can’t argue with the armed, especially if they have friends in the White House. Continue reading →
These few highlights are from our concluding podcast message on the epistle of James. If you’ve followed these 8 or 9 teachings, you’ve already heard me say that James, the half-brother of Jesus, had a very specific theme in mind when he wrote, a class-less Christianity. In his last chapter, he pulled out all the stops and confronted those from a higher socioeconomic status who oppressed those with little to no status with impunity. Read at your own risk!
Here are a few select sound bytes of mine from the podcast…
Jesus, the justice-maker is coming… The Leveler is coming and he will even things out…
The oppressor will be judged and the oppressed will be vindicated…
When the Lord returns, he’ll fix all inequities. You’ll get justice, if not now, certainly when he comes back. And he is “near.” Continue reading →
A older white guy wearing a red ‘Make America Great Again’ hat asked my friend the other day, “Were you one of the NIGGERS rioting in Oakland last night?”
Troubling times. Very troubling. Solutions anyone?
Martin Luther King Junior offered his own solution to troubling times called, “Nonviolence and Racial Justice,” which was printed in the Christian Century in February, 1957. The entire article is one of the greatest ever written on the subject of how a Christian or any morally anchored human resists evil. Part way through he defined “nonviolent resistance” in five precise points. I quote only the points and some of his explanations (without commentary from me). Read the rest of his article here.
First, this is not a method for cowards; it does resist…
The nonviolent resister is just as strongly opposed to the evil against which he protests as is the person who uses violence… This method is passive physically but strongly active spiritually; it is nonaggressive physically but dynamically aggressive spiritually.
A second point is that nonviolent resistance does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding…
The end is redemption and reconciliation. The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community, while the aftermath of violence is tragic bitterness. Continue reading →
If we have power, we must use it to help the powerless.
While John was preaching hot and heavy about what authentic repentance looks like, three groups of people approached him with the same operative question, “What should we do?” Okay, Messiah’s coming and God will judge the unrepentant. His ax is ready for swinging, so what do we do to escape its cut? John tailored his responses to each group a little differently.
“Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”
These mercenary soldiers likely operated as the tax collectors’ muscle in their shakedowns of helpless fellow citizens. The Greek term that John used for “extort” means “to rob with violence.” They were so discontent with their take home pay that they resorted to leg-breaking for the IRS of the day. The preacher told them to live within their means with their state-issued paycheck and refrain from manipulating the powerless for extra cash.
I warn you not to dismiss John’s word just because you’re not in the Army or an enforcer for the mob! Like the soldiers, most of us have some power of some sort over someone, and how we steward that power says more about us than our possession of the power itself. How we use our power is reflective of have truly repentant we are. Continue reading →
In Part 1 I talked about the bad habit even followers of Jesus get into, the hell-inspired practice of name calling. I offer here a further list of the harmful effects of labeling one another.
It’s particularly libelous whenwe mislabel someone, intentionally or not.
Those who were afraid of the work of MLK or Dorothy Day labeled them “Communists.” They weren’t. They just cared about the poor and marginalized in ways that threatened those who obviously cared less. There are a number of people who, in order to discredit President Obama, call him a Muslim. He isn’t. Someone cares about the environment and they’re derogatorily labeled a “tree hugger.” Anyone who believes that marriage should only be between a man and woman is automatically “homophobic.” A person against abortion is anti-feminist and chauvinistic. These assumptions may or may not be true, but must be judged on an individual basis rather than painted with the broad brush of prejudice. Continue reading →
[Rather than read this piece-by-piece, if you prefer, you can see the entire essay at barneywiget.com.]
“My uncle told a good story with his life, but I think there was such a sadness at his funeral because his story wasn’t finished. If you aren’t telling a good story, nobody thinks you died too soon; they just think you died. But my uncle died too soon.”Donald Miller
When I was first diagnosed with cancer I worried about dying before my story was finished. I had, and still have, a number of things to achieve, people to reach, chapters to live and to tell. It wasn’t the dying part that bothered me so much as living long enough (and well enough) to complete my story (and complete it well). A number of things have comforted me since then, not the least of which is the assortment of passages strewn throughout the pages of my Bible – a selection of which come from John’s Gospel. These in particular, consoled me; on the one hand, with the confidence that God would give me with enough time to do everything he wanted me to do. His “To Do List” was still achievable even if I did have less time than I had previously thought. On the other hand, there were other verses that injected me with a conviction that he would give me just enough time. I’d have time, but no more than I needed to finish my assignment. Continue reading →