Friday, August 19, 2005
"Sometimes evil must be fought"
Robin Parrish of Infusemag.com presented a challenging question in his latest newsletter. While considering the statement, "Sometimes evil must be fought," for use in a novel, he pondered the apparent conflict between Yeshua's command to turn the other cheek and the Old Covenant battle cry, "The battle belongs to the LORD." Robin wrote, "We can't help but cheer for the hero who stands his ground before the wicked and fights the good fight ... There's something very noble-sounding about the good and decent people of the world standing up against the dastardly villains ... So if I were to stop an act of brutality against an innocent, it may not exactly be turning the other cheek, but it's hard to see such an action as a bad thing." Finally he asked, "So was Jesus sending mixed signals? Was he telling us to do good only when harming the wicked can be avoided?" Well, that got me to thinking. I love to watch the Yeshua of my imagination outraged by the religious leaders' presumption and verbally nailing them to the temple wall, or throwing the shysters out of the temple courtyard. He never attacked them personally, either with sarcasm or with physical violence, but he attacked their corruption. He never attacked them for his own sake, whether getting even for an insult or responding to a personal injustice. His mission was to redeem us from our slavery to sin, not to defend Himself. By observing His life and following His example we can avoid the apparent conundrums Robin's editorial presented. There is in fact no conflict at all, as I'm sure he believes. In the gospel accounts we saw Yeshua "turn the other cheek," and we saw Him attack the evildoers. While He refused to defend Himself, He defended the temple with His entire strength. It's not hard to see the consistency in His motives for both: all He did, He did for us, and never for Himself. Yeshua lived the ultimate example of a godly life through both grace and judgment. We can safely emulate His grace, but we must be cautious emulating His judgment. Yeshua had none of our false motives. He judged from righteousness. Could we ever claim the same basis for judgment? Knowing us better than we know ourselves, He told us not to judge others. Now let's see ... by my primitive math, 2 - 1 = 1. So if we're to follow Yeshua's example without violating His clear command, that one response we're allowed is grace.