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Archive for June, 2012

Peacemakers(8)

June 30th, 2012
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Scripture of the Day: Matthew 5:39

39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.(NIV)

How did Jesus respond to evil in his day?

Was Jesus controversial and did he challenge the status quo? Was the society Jesus was forming meant to just be a quiet continuation of the surrounding society, just blending in or could it be at times be a radical challenge to it in the way its members lived?

Let’s start with the words Do not resist an evil person. It sounds very docile. Remember the King James translators were working for the court: they belonged to the status quo built around a very ordered and hierarchical society. Everyone knew their place around the King as God’s anointed servant.

I was watching the Jubilee service and as the cameras panned around what I must say was a very beautifully refurbished St Paul’s Cathedral at a cost of 40 million pounds. (very different to the grey and grungy place I remember when I met the Bishop of London back in th 1970) I noticed the Pantocrator image of Christ in his majesty as “Almighty” or “All-powerful” – the stern and powerful judge of all mankind.

When the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek as the Septuagint, Pantokrator was used both for YHWH Tzevaot “Lord of Hosts” and for El Shaddai “God Almighty”. In the New Testament, Pantokrator is used once by Saint Paul (2 Cor 6:18). Aside from that one occurrence, the author of the Book of Revelation is the only New Testament author to use the word Pantokrator. The author of Revelation uses the word nine times

This image became more and more popular as a means of supporting the authority of Emperors, Kings who administered Christ’s law and order on earth. The shepherd and footwashing image obviously did not contain the right sense of fear and control over people.

But what it meant was that in translating the Bible they would be biased in understanding Jesus’ teaching as supporting docility and passivity to the constituted authority.

But is there more we can understand from Jesus’ teaching?

The Greek word for resist can mean more than simply to “stand against” or “resist.” Inherent in the word is the idea of a more violent resistance, not passive but using whatever means to gain our end. It can signify standing in battle array, striving for victory.

Message for the Day

Peacemakers(7)

June 29th, 2012
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Scripture of the Day:Matthew 5:38-41

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. (NIV)

A huge question facing Christians down through the centuries is how to respond to evil? Are Christians those who just accept the status quo and not rock the boat?

Is there another way between passive surrender to evil or violent resistance?

Many who have committed their lives to working for change and justice in the world simply dismiss Jesus’ teachings about non violence as impractical idealism.

“Turn the other cheek” suggests the passive, Christian doormat quality that has made some Christians appear cowardly and complicit in the face of injustice. “Resist not evil” seems to break the back of all opposition to evil and counsel submission.

“Going the second mile” has become a platitude meaning nothing more than “extend yourself.”

Critics of such teaching claim that rather than fostering structural change, such attitudes encourage collaboration with the oppressor.

Yet when we look back we find that we admire those Christians who fought against the evils of slavery or for the mentally ill or for those in prisons. Or people like Corrie ten Boom who hid Jews from the Nazis. Or even those Christians who ran the underground railway which helped southern runaway slaves to escape into the North.

We stand in awe of those men and women who championed the rights of the poor working class or who resisted conscientiously even to their death following the evil policies of government.

Is there another way of understanding Jesus’ instructions?

Some material for this message has been informed by Dr. Wink, who is author of Jesus and Nonviolence: The Third Way

Message for the Day

Rod Matthews’ Regional Update

June 28th, 2012
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In this update Rod Matthews shares the recent Indian SEP and the building project in Vanuatu.

To read the full report please click Regional Update – 28Jun2012.

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