Saturday, 2 August 2008

Jesus and Non-Retaliation

St John's Chapel Address Weeks 1 & 2, Term 2, 2008. Part of the 'Jesus is Different Series'.

[The reading was Matthew 5:38-48]

Ten years ago, after a Christmas service, a man high on drugs carrying a screwdriver and yelling satanic abuse, burst upon me and the congregation. He held a screwdriver in my belly while yelling his abuse a few inches from my face.

My response to this, after the incident, was to learn martial arts for seven years. Not an unreasonable response perhaps. The problem is that my response keeps the world as it is. The next time this happens, and I fight, the spiral of violence continues, and could even get tighter.

Contrast my response to the teaching and life of Jesus. He has a different vision which he was willing to live (and die) for. He says that we should not overcome evil and violence through evil and violence but through love. Turn the other cheel etc.) And love can be costly, but to maintain the spiral of violence costs us all even more, at least in the long run. (Think of the way weapons of more, developed for self-defence, get more and more terrifying.) This is a different view of being human, one that leads to life, and life not just for us but for all of us.

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