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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Dignity and Honor as a Strategic Defense

Matthew 5:38-45  (NIV)

Eye for Eye
“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.

Love for Enemies
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be children of your Father in heaven.

Romans 13:7 (NIV)

Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Today I met with my good friend Negille for weekly Bible study. Negille is a Jehovah Witness–a group of believers I much admire for their courage in evangelism. For a moment put yourself in their shoes. You regularly are going "cold" to the homes (the castles) of complete strangers to discuss religion – a sometimes tempestuous minefield of powerful emotions.  Today Negille discussed a concept and approach to evangelism that I think is fascinating and powerful and has wide application in human relationships. That concept is absorption.

What Jesus essentially advises above is for us to react to hostility in an absorptive manner. Absorption is quite different from a purposeless and passive "limp wash rag" response. Absorption is proactive and requires a steel backbone. It seeks to be steady-- helpful rather than hurtful to the belligerent party. It recognizes the honor and respect due them as human beings and creations of God (while incidentally recognizing one's own high calling).  Therefore it seeks to be redemptive in its effect.  Now I'm fully aware that those hostile to Jehovah Witnesses will claim that this is pure manipulation--and was perhaps even manipulative on the part of Jesus.  Certainly it is something done purposefully and by design.  Yet, absorbing hostility rather than a tit-for-tat, eye for eye cage match is inherently righteous since the motivation is to help rather than hurt, and ultimately serves to empower others with dignity and honor.

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