June 13, 2016 - Hate

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’.
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you on your right cheek,
turn the other one to him as well.

Matthew 5:38

A theme that emerges time and time again throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament is that the divine message will be rejected.   We like to think we are not susceptible to that impulse - that rejection of the divine message is a thing of the past, or that it is a failing of the other side of the political spectrum.  Many have left faith because they think it has nothing further to teach them.

Today’s passage is a rare moment where Jesus is not describing God’s morality, but is genuinely giving us moral guidance.  He is not suggesting that we should allow violence to go unchecked.  Rather, he is telling us to always stay strategic.  As we restrain the violent person, we shouldn’t descend into hate.  We should do what we have to do to stop the violence, but not to retaliate or seek retribution.  We should not demand an eye for an eye.  We should always act with as much mercy and understanding as possible.   

Social media now explodes in self-righteous rage with regularity.  Nothing is left of political discourse except divisiveness.  We have elegant, sophisticated rationales for our own positions, but make no attempt to understand the positions of those with whom we disagree nor do we credit them with the slightest intelligence or good will.  Justice is totally divorced from mercy.  We descend into hate with no self-consciousness at all – all while claiming to occupy the moral high ground and insisting that others are just hypocrites.   

The divine message continues to be rejected.