Margret Benefiel’s new post on the Sojourners blog is very challenging.
Her post is about Julio Diaz, who confronted his potential mugger by offering more than the mugger demanded, including dinner. Over dinner, Diaz convinced him not to mug him at all, and the mugger even gave up his knife.
This story challenged Benefiel to really look at her everyday life and how she confronts violence in it, to prepare for the time when she too could confront a knife wielding mugger.
Its a great challenge to us all. How can we confront violence in our society like Jesus would? What kinds of violence do we see everyday yet just pass by because we are too scared to confront it or, even worse, too desensitized to even see it?
I know I live in one of the safest cities in America. Benefiel gives examples of violent speech that we all encounter.
“And at this moment in the U. S., we are hearing racism and other forms of hate speech in the public square. How do we respond when we hear a co-worker repeating a talk-show host’s racist remarks? How do we respond when we are the target of a neighbor’s anger because of our political views? Do we intervene when we see a bully in the office or on the playground getting away with hate speech and if so, how?”
What does the Bible say?
“You have heard that it was said,’An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount
Matthew 5:38-42 ESV
I don’t believe Jesus was being metaphorical when he said this. I think Jesus wants us to get to a point where, even when confronted with violence, we care more about the person we are interacting with than our own safety.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:19-21 ESV
How can we be about that? How can we, the Church, confront an increasingly violent world in what Benefiel calls the “third way of Jesus”?