I hope everyone enjoyed their long weekend! That is my excuse for the tardiness of this post, as I was out yesterday with the kids enjoying the sunshine. We rode bikes (or tried to), ate delicious (fast) food, and played in the playground (until punches were thrown and tears were shed and then we knew it was time to go home).
My kids don’t fight often, at least not physically, but when they do we are quick to squash it right away. I find it interesting how they are angry at the other enough to take a swing at them, but then as soon as their parents step in they are riddled with guilt and remorse. This is the case without fail, so why take that swing to begin with? Why hasn’t the lesson been learned yet?
After I broke up their fight yesterday, they kept insisting that it “wasn’t fair”. It wasn’t fair that one could evoke so much anger that they were basically asking to get hit, but then they aren’t supposed to be hit. At least, that is how I understood the situation. Makes sense, I guess, as when we get hurt in some way, our natural reaction is to hurt others, especially the one who hurt us.
Retaliation, revenge, getting what is coming to them, we have different ways of putting it but it is basically the same thing. You hurt me, then you expect to get hurt back. Fire down from heaven, anyone? The thing is if we burn those who burn us, soon there won’t be much of anything left before too long.
This instruction of Jesus out of Luke 10 has been used as the model for extreme passive aggressive retaliation. It’s like, “you’re about to get the biggest dust shaken off my sandals of your life!” Sure, it might not be as satisfying as punching someone, but at least it is something and no one really gets hurt.
Of course, I don’t think this is exactly what Jesus meant. I don’t think he meant the dust off our feet to be a symbol of retaliation, but rather a symbol of us not being affected by rejection or hurt. It seems to me that Jesus’ next instruction after the dust shaking is quite telling, and that is to proclaim still, even in the face of rejection and hurt, that the kingdom of God has come near.
See, I think Jesus is showing his disciples how they will be rejected, people will hurt them, and things won’t always go their way. But the truth still remains, that the kingdom of God has come near. So we needn’t exact revenge on those who harm us, we needn’t reject those who reject us, we needn’t hit back, but we proclaim that God’s kingdom of grace, mercy, and love has come near.
And there is joy in that. There is joy in the fact that there is forgiveness in every area that we can be hurt. There is forgiveness in every way we unintentionally or intentionally hurt. There is forgiveness in every time we forgive, like 7 times 77 or something like that.
The point is that we do get hurt and we will continue to be hurt. But the answer to feeling better isn’t to retaliate but to be reminded of God’s grace stretched out to all people, God’s mercy that is freely given, and God’s love that brings us boundless joy.
This isn’t an easy thing, that I can say for sure. But it is a true thing. It is true that God’s kingdom has come near, and we are all welcomed and included in it. Thanks be to God.
Have a great week, everyone!