The Real Reason Christians Can Love Our Enemies

Screen shot 2013-02-22 at 1.44.34 PMIt’s commonly thought that the reason Christians are not to take revenge on their enemies is because God is nice and wouldn’t do that sort of thing.  God’s gentle, so we must be gentle is how it goes.  It may be attractive to certain folks but in the face of true evil, it lacks the needed power.  The power is lacking because this – God is nice, you be nice – answer to evil goes against the thrust of the Scriptures.

Miroslav Volf has helped me here.  You don’t have to be a strict pacifist (I’m not) to acknowledge that no retribution upon enemies is a binding New Testament ethic for all disciples.  The real reason we must not be vengeful is not that God will also not be but that God will do it better.  And, when need be, He’ll do it for us.  He’ll do it far better than we, as sinners ourselves, could ever do.  God has appointed a day and a Man to whom He will enact justice upon evil.  That man thankfully is not me (or you) and that day is not today.  The Man is Jesus and the Day is His return.

The logic of the Scriptures goes like this:

Don’t avenge yourselves, but let another take care of the wrath.

That other is Jesus, who will judge the world with perfect justice.

So therefore, treat your enemies in profoundly loving ways.

Jesus Meek and Mild is never the basis for our peaceful love towards our enemies.  Jesus King and Judge is the reason we don’t have to become little kings and judges over others.  Volf has an answer for those who believe that the Christian should love their enemy/not retaliate since God is perfect, non-coercive love:

Soon you would discover that it takes the quiet of a suburban home for the birth of the thesis that human nonviolence corresponds to God’s refusal to judge.  In a scorched land, soaked in the blood of the innocent, it will invariably die.  As one watches it die, one will do well reflect about many other pleasant captivities of the liberal mind.  Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace

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3 thoughts on “The Real Reason Christians Can Love Our Enemies

  1. Interesting! I never thought that I’d see you referencing Miroslav Volf Steve 😛 I have to push back a little bit on one comment though. I feel as though “Jesus Meek and Mild” and “Jesus as King and Judge” are not mutually exclusive. We are called to emulate Christ, and we find Jesus not taking revenge himself, but rather loving his enemies and refusing to be a conquering King. Christ called hate the true sin in the sermon on the mount, and if we keep hate in our hearts waiting for the day that Jesus comes to smite those guys we don’t like, it’s no better than if we had taken the revenge ourselves.

    In the end, I agree with you, I think a further question to ask is: Why do we want Christ’s judgment? What is our own motivation for wanting Christ to judge?

  2. “I never thought that I’d see you referencing Miroslav Volf”
    ???

    “I feel as though “Jesus Meek and Mild” and “Jesus as King and Judge” are not mutually exclusive.”
    I never said they were mutually exclusive.

    “We are called to emulate Christ…”
    Of course I agree. But Jesus does come as conquering King eventually. Check out the last book in the Bible.

    “Why do we want Christ’s judgment? What is our own motivation for wanting Christ to judge?”
    This a vital question for every disciple but one we can’t answer for others. You are exactly right that we shouldn’t be wringing our hands just waiting for those baddies to ‘get it’ on the Last Day. But there are many appropriate reasons to desire God’s just judgment.

    If you’re interested you should read the last chapter of Volf’s ‘Exclusion & Embrace’. It is all about how in order to be a People of Peace we need a God of Vengeance. I think you’d like it, Justin!

    Or you can listen to this sermon by yours truly on the Day of Judgment.
    http://www.thekingsfellowship.com/the-approaching-day-rev-207-15/

    Thanks so much for stopping by the new blog. Your thoughts are most appreciated.

  3. Pingback: A God of Wrath? Or a God of Love? | Words of Truth & Reason

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