The right to retaliate is sadly front cover again. The demand to carry guns and use them because otherwise evil would wreak havoc from those who carry guns. I’m so glad I live in a culture where this particular argument is not an issue. Yet retaliation is in every culture of the world.
Was Paul a pacifist? “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. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” (Romans 12 v 17-19)
Was Peter? “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3: 9
Was Jesus? “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5 v 38-42)
We must go back to the beginning to understand the reason why the law of Moses stated “an eye for an eye” for it was to make sure that punishment was not harsher than it deserved to be.
In Genesis 4:23-24, the father of Noah, Lamech, says, “I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times”
Lamech’s son, Tubal-Cain, had invented what was the first primitive sword and weapons of war are seen for the first time. We don’t know what happened but it would appear that the punishment did not fit the crime. He truly believed that those who tried to take revenge on him for his revenge will receive the vengeance of God 77 times over. A huge presumption on the mercy of God. Lamech was now self-confident and self-sufficient because of the weapon he had in his hand.
Interestingly when Jesus teaches Peter to forgive he says that he should forgive not 7 times but 70 times 7 (Matthew 18:22).
So what do we do with the bad guy?
Here’s the big thing and I simply write it in a number of different ways, my own responses to the attacks that come our way, I have failed many times but this is what I try to say and do:
“I will not do life like you do life. I belong to a different kingdom to you. I choose a higher level. Not out of arrogance or pompous attitude but simply because I will not stoop down to a level of the world which says I should retaliate by ‘hitting your cheek or saying NO to my shirt, that mile, that ask or the loan.”
“Look down on me, make me look unequal to you and my response to you will show the world that we are indeed not equal.”
“Make my life hard and I will expose your injustice by making your life easy.”
“Make me look like some cattle carrying your bags for a mile (the Romans practiced conscription amongst the citizens) and I will show you I will not be demeaned for I will go the extra mile. My generosity will defeat your conscription”
“Humiliate me but I will not be humiliated in my heart.”
“My humanity will expose your violent humanity by revealing a bigger heart than what is being shown.”
“I will fight within the Kingdom of Jesus not within your kingdom.”
“Though you are a bad guy: I will do my best not to retaliate.”
There is one more thing. If not retaliating is difficult then what Paul says next is even more so!