Grace versus revenge
There is an internal conflict between grace and revenge.
I believe the revelation that God was in Christ who lived amongst us in our imperfect world is God’s way of revealing forgiveness.
After all, was it not our actions that nailed Jesus to the cross: “You say you are God? Well I don’t believe you. Nail him.”
Three days after that event, Jesus rose from the dead and reached out to those who had killed him. It was God’s way of maintaining the relationship with human beings, in spite of it all.
Our base instincts, however, tell us that revenge is sweet and called for when anything like what happened to Jesus happens to us. Well, if God did to us what our base instincts tell us is normative in cases like this, guess what . . . .? But God didn’t. Thank God.
Here’s my point
What happened in Paris is the epitome of terror. No one — no one — has a right to carry out such murder in the name of a higher power. Our inclination is to automatically follow our base instincts and seek revenge.
Well here’s my thought for this week
Maybe grace is the call to not just jump to what our base instincts tell us. It is our base instincts that tell us that all people who share a like faith think alike.
That is where our faith, our realization of what God has done to and for us, must dictate our actions. Not our base instincts.
Grace needs to be between their actions towards us and our reactions towards them. Never forget. God’s “reaction” towards our actions was grace, continued presence, not base instinctual reaction. Is this not a modal for us as we deal with assaults against us? Grace needs to be between our base instincts and our actions. Grace is awareness that what is may not be all there is; that there may be more to come even though we still have to deal with the slaughter presently in front of us and possibly aimed at us. But, again, grace speaks to a quiet pause rather than the base instinct of panic and fear.
Don’t get me wrong.
If someone says “My goal is to kill you and your family,” that is different than Jesus’s words ‘If someone takes your coat, offer your cloak as well.” I do not hear Jesus saying to do nothing in the face of evil.
The conflict between grace and base instinct is right here.
Do we not have a calling to keep ourselves and our families safe? If someone has chosen to pursue evil as the call to kill, then do I not have an obligation to keep the ones I love safe? It is by no means an easy question! But we can’t just jump with no prior reflection.
Maybe the tension between grace and retaliation, between maintaining relationships when someone hurts us or wants to, will level our heads and keep us from jumping into something just because our base instincts tell us to.
Yet, that must be weighed with the obligation to keep ourselves safe when someone has said to us “you’re next.”
You figure out what works for you.
I just present the tension between grace and retaliation.