The Violence of Good
It seems like we are living in a powder keg right now, one that at any moment could blow. Tensions are high and it would seem like everyone and everything is at odds with each other. Culture, faith, races, people groups, parties, constituents and countries are all going head to head right now at an unprecedented pace and with great aggression.
Leaving us all asking the question, “When will it all stop?” Jesus presents us with a truth that seems to be missing right now or at least forgotten. He says to us in Luke 6:27-35, “27 “But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also. And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and from someone who takes your things, don’t ask for them back. 31 Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them. 32 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do what is good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do what is good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High. For he is gracious to the ungrateful and evil. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.”
Jesus shows us a better way. He shows us the true violence of good. A statement that at first glance seems counterintuitive. It is... and it is not. Many resort to violence to push an agenda, to further a cause and to make a point. But Jesus shows us that the most violent act to provoke change is in fact GOOD. The goodness of our hearts and our hands applied to the world around us is in fact how we change the world. Jesus was the ultimate picture of this truth and this is why His disciples, at many points of His ministry, were so frustrated at Him. They wanted a revolution of blood shed and he brought them a reformation of life change. His weapons were healing, forgiveness, grace, love, a hand extended and a cross carried. He ushered in salvation as others wanted him to usher in war.
The call has never been more clear and the stakes have never been higher than they are now. The writer Thomas Nashe captured the gravity of this truth in his novel "The Unfortunate Traveller," as he writes, “Wherein let me dilate a little more gravely than the nature of this history requires, or will be expected of so young a practitioner in divinity, that not those that intermissivley cry ‘Lord open unto us; Lord open unto us’ enter first the Kingdom; that not the greatest professors have the greatest portion in grace; that all is not gold that glisters. When Christ said ‘The Kingdom of Heaven must suffer violence, he meant not the violence of long babbling prayers, nor the violence of tedious invective sermons without wit, but the violence of faith, the violence of good works, the violence of patient suffering."
We who desire to change the world must not do so with conventional weapons of warfare but rather by our love, by our joy, by our peace, by our patience, by our kindness, by our gentleness, by our faithfulness and with great self control. These are the tools necessary for change, these are the weapons of our warfare. The greatest act of violence one will ever participate in is the violence of good and it is this good that changes the world.