Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read Romans 12

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 

More thoughts for meditation

So many good do’s and don’ts! If things were always so crystal clear! I think Jesus’s command to love your enemies and Paul’s Bless those who persecute you” are a cornerstone of what it means to truly follow Jesus. But this core faith can be the hardest thing to understand, much more put into practice, for the evil we fight is against the “powers and principalities and not flesh in blood.” In other words, ideas and systems, not individual people are the evil we are to hate.

This distinction can be a tall order when we think of individuals like Dylann Roof, who walked into a black church’s evening prayer meeting and shot and killed nine people with no remorse. That was explicit racism at its worst, pure evil. I have no pity for Dylann Roof. But when the Lord knit him in his mother’s womb his actions were not the “plans for prosperity and hope” the Lord had in store for him. Are we really supposed to bless white supremacists and Nazis instead of cursing them? As much as I want to say we shouldn’t bless them, Jesus and Paul didn’t say love and bless your enemies and those who persecute you except (fill in the blank).

So how do we love, bless, not pay evil for evil, do what is right, and live at peace? I don’t think these verses mean we can’t get angry or hold the “powers that be” accountable. There is a difference between marching in the streets for justice and killing hundreds of thousands of civilians in a war on terror that has reaped more terror on the world than it has prevented.  I have seen these verses used to say we should not make waves in society, live apart and just be a peaceful example, almost ignoring the injustices around us. When we look at Christ’s life and his teachings, we can see that our response to evil cannot be more evil.

Simply standing aside could be considered evil, as Martian Luther King Jr. said, “He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”It is common these days to see people write off such teachings because they see turning the other cheek, one of Jesus examples of how to love out enemy, as weak almost childish. Instead they choose “redemptive violence.” Walter Wink in his book Jesus and Nonviolence explains how turning the other cheek was anything but weak. Instead, it was a creative, powerful way to disarm our enemy, resist the evil, while still giving hope that our oppressor would take the opportunity to see the evil in their ways and find redemption. To act the way Paul and Jesus call us to act  takes strength and discipline. 

Suggestions for action

  • Read today verse excepts several times. Close your eyes, rest in them. Listen to the Spirit. See what arises up in you. Pay attention and move in the ways you feel moved to move.
  • Pray for the Trumps and Betsy Devos of this world. Pray that their hearts may change and the people mobilize across this country to peacefully remove them from power. 
  • If feeling like there is not much you can do to help end the evil of systemic racism in the U.S., Medium Magazine has created an exhaustive list of various ways stand up and fight against systems of injustice. It is entitled 97 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice. I think anyone could do these things not just so-called white people.