Since the events of August 11 and 12 in Charlottesville, I’ve continued to ponder my own sense of things. My thinking is evolving and I want to say more about what is surfacing for me.
I grieve the presence of prejudice of any kind. I long for unity in the human community. Even though I am a part of the community of white privilege, I have close relationships with people of color, in the LGBTQ community, in the immigrant community, and among the poor, and I have seen up close and personal the spirit crushing, life-altering impact of being hated, reviled, and marginalized. Everything in me wants this to end.
As I ponder my desire for an end to prejudice, I’ve been meditating on these words in Matthew 5. “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person” (Mt 5:39).
Do not resist an evil person. Wow! Did he really mean that? Everything in me wants to fight prejudice. In my post, right after the Charlottesville weekend, I wrote about standing against this evil. But Jesus says, “Don’t resist.” He also says “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27). Peter writes in I Peter 1:3: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessings.”
I’ve been wrestling with that all this week. As I’ve wrestled, I’ve gotten some of the fog cleared out of my brain – (thanks James, Steve, Jeff to name a few). Jesus’ way is not to resist. His way is to actively engage your enemy with love.
In the modern era in western culture, Christians dominated the meta-narrative of who God is and what the world is about. With a supposed theological superiority and a strategy that made insiders and outsiders, thereby having the very powerful ability to exclude, in some ways the church adopted western capitalisms game of winners and losers. So even if we do it non-violently, we protest. We want to win. We want them to lose. In the mix, we’ve lost the simple command to love like God loves – unconditionally. Don’t resist your enemies. Love them.
I hear Dallas Willard’s words in the context of this conversation. He said, “Somewhere along the way we are going to have to decide that we are getting the results we are getting not in spite of our best efforts but because of them.” Superiority, judgment, exclusion, or returning protest for protest and hate for hate – what is that getting us. I’ve been wondering if this is the way of Jesus? I don’t think it is.
Jesus’ way is to love – not just our family and friends but also our enemies. What is going to make a difference is loving others with whom we disagree – without an agenda to convert them or make them wrong (to win) – but simply because they are human beings who are worthy of love. I’m afraid that if we don’t – if I don’t – learn this lesson, we’ll keep resisting and racism will keep persisting.