Tuesday, 16 June 2009

“Don’t Get Mad, Get Even” Doesn’t Work!

Posted: 14 Jun 2009 09:00 PM PDT

2 Cor 6:1-10 / Mt 5:38-42

Whether accidentally or intentionally, the people around us regularly complicate our lives and often hurt, mistreat, or inconvenience us without a backward glance. In myriad ways, it happens in the supermarket, on the freeway, in the neighborhood, and even at home.

In such cases, there’s a common saying that sometimes just seems to fit the bill: Don’t get mad, get even!

But Jesus offers us an alternative vision. It takes more effort and more self-discipline, and on top of that it isn’t even guaranteed to work every time, but in the long term it builds up our little bit of God’s kingdom instead of tearing it down. Jesus’ alternative to seeking revenge is to work for the conversion of the one who did us wrong. And the strategy he proposes is a simple one: Embarrass the thoughtless and the malefactors into taking a second look at their bad choices and feeling how rotten those choices really were. That’s what the turning of the other cheek is about. Not pacifism or wimpishness, but a strategy for eliciting change.

Jesus understood full well that this won’t work every time and he had no intention of making us permanent victims to every menace who steps into our lives. He recognized the legitimacy of the right to self defense. But before we head straight for that, he asks that we try conversion first. And sometimes we’ll succeed. Those sometimes are worth a little extra effort. Those sometimes can change the whole tone of your life.

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