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Let’s continue our look at Jon Walker‘s recent book, Costly Grace. It is a contemporary view of German pastor, theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer‘s well-known work, The Cost of Discipleship.

Chapter 12 is called “Becoming Like Jesus Through Redemption.”  The objective of Jesus based on Matthew 5:38-42 is:

To teach us that our obedient trust in Jesus can be measured by our demand to get even!

But isn’t that the American way?  If someone hurts us, we hurt back!  Not for the followers of Jesus.  We can either trust God to handle things for us or we can trust ourselves to take care of matters.   There is a greater righteousness that an “eye for eye” mentality.  Jesus did not abolish the Old Testament law, but came to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17).

Even though we live in a fallen world, Christians are not to act like people in the world.  They are not to…

…deploy weapons of revenge, such as manipulation, blame, shame, hatred, bitterness, pride, gossip, slander, ridicule, threats, deception, violence in anger, and violence with cold-blooded calculation.  These are satanic weapons we use to get our own way without the help of God (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).  They just keep us in a cycle of evil-for-evil.  Jesus came to end that cycle.

According to Walker (and Bonhoeffer), Christians are to deal with evil with faith in the fact that God is in complete control of the situation. Christians must resist the thought that their situation is unique, and therefore, Jesus would not understand how “hurtful and aggressive others can be.”  Such thinking is ridiculous…

Really?  Doesn’t it show the depth of our delusional thinking that we would say to a man, half dead, carried a Roman cross through the streets of Jerusalem, only to have nails driven into his hands and feet before he was hoisted into the air to hang from the cross?…He wasn’t crucified for preaching cheap grace: Let’s all just get along.  Can’t  we just try to love each other. They killed him because his radical message challenged the basic foundation of a system that kept them in charge instead of God.

Walker writes that Christians need to realize that they have a “divine defense.”  We are to let go of following our ego and trust Jesus completely. Bonhoeffer wrote The Cost of Discipleship when he was persecuted by Hitler.  Bonhoeffer saw evil first hand.  Even when he joined the German resistance, the principle still applies.  Walker put it this way…

The situation in Nazi Germany dealt with the issue of how believers should respond  when the government is part of the evil. That question does nothing to release us from placing our faith in God when it comes to personal injustice.

Walker then explained how Jesus came to earth for a “mission of redemption, not retribution.”  Christians are not to take the path of Jonah who wanted judgement on his enemies.  Rather, Christians follow the path of Jesus.

When we demand an eye for an eye, Jesus holds out his hand, yet does not demand a nail for a nail.

Getting even is an act without faith.  Such a lack of faith will never see God come in and take care of the situation.  In the same way that Jesus gave up his rights, his followers are to as well.  It is more than that.  Christians should even seek the welfare of those who want to hurt them.

Walker ended the chapter with examples of Fallen Thinking and Kingdom Thinking. An example of each:

Fallen Thinking: This person deserves to be paid back for the evil he’s done to me.

Kingdom Thinking: Jesus has better things for me to do than to chase after revenege!

Amen! May we all follow Jesus as he requires!

October 2010
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