Monday, March 17, 2008

Forgiveness is the only way forward in the face of evil and enemies--real or perceived, personal or global

1. REFUSE to try to repay evil with evil, violence with violence, insult with insult. This is the first and basic choice: I will not respond in the manner in which I have been harmed. See: Romans 12:17, 19, 21; Matthew 5:38-39

2. RECOGNIZE and reckon with the real enemy at work behind hurtful people and situations. The real enemy is unseen, at work influencing the people and institutions which we usually think of as evil or the enemy. See: Ephesians 6:10-13

3. RESIST “enemy formation,” the process of unnecessarily “demonizing” people and institutions. Be careful where you go with your anger, fear, and suspicion. We create monsters. See: Ephesians 6:10-13

4. RECONSTRUCT your perception of an enemy by trying to give them a human “face.” An enemy can be a monster only as long as we refuse to give them a human face. We will never effectively address an enemy until we have "faced" them. See: Romans 12:9-18

5. RESPOND to evil or an enemy in a way that counters abuse with personal dignity and offers an opportunity for redemption of one's adversary. Jesus' instructions in dealing with insults, bullies, and arrogant people are intended to expose the impotence of the so-called powerful and open up the possibility for a transforming outcome. See: Matthew 5:38-48

6. RETURN love for hatred, kindness for insult, blessing for persecution. This is the way to personal and social transformation. It's how we change and how the world changes. See: Romans 12:14, 20; Matthew 5:38-48

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