7th April 2019

Becoming a ‘Grave for Hate’

“…love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
Luke 6:34-36 (ESV)

I have never been abused or attacked because of my race. Still, as a world traveller, I have experienced bias and endured rude behaviour, and even that level of mistreatment doesn’t feel good. My heart goes out to people who endure hate and violence, and I pay honour to those who have, through the power of the Spirit, risen above the oppression.

Jerome Kodell tells a story about when the American Civil Rights Movement was coming to a boil in the USA. The Abbey where he lived was hosting an interracial retreat for those involved in the movement. He spoke to a young man working for voter registration in eastern Arkansas where tensions were particularly high. He asked if he had experienced persecution as a result of his work. “Yes,” the man replied, he’d been “spit on and beaten with fists, pipes and chains.” Did he ever defend himself? His answer was as honest as it was insightful: “Yes, at first. But then I realised that by fighting back I wasn’t getting anywhere. The hatred coming at me in those fists and clubs was bouncing right off and would just continue to spread. I decided I would not fight back. I would just absorb it, so that some would die in my body. I now see my job in the midst of that evil is to make my body a grave for hate.” This man endured abuse to ensure that the sickening cycle of offence and revenge would end with him. Powerful words!

Our scripture (above) points to what Jesus wants—to make our bodies a grave for hate, our ears a grave for gossip, our mouths a grave for insult, and our hearts a grave for retaliation. Just as the young civil-rights worker knew that his non-violence was absorbing some of the hatred in the world, so Jesus commends us to break the vicious cycle of “an eye for an eye.”

Jesus began the movement—he was the first fully to break that cycle. He made himself the grave for judgment; he took the chaos and ugliness caused by sin into himself. He gave us freedom in return. If this is the Lord we serve, and the reality we live within, can we absorb some of the pain in the world today? Can we stop the brokenness cycle? Perhaps we can forgive a grave offence or even by simply stopping, and listening to someone who needs an ear, absorb and stop the evil? In doing this, we do Christ’s work in the world.

Prayer
Merciful Father, make me a channel for peace, reflecting Christ in and through me. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen

Presented by Greg Williams
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About the Presenter:
The Day by Day each Sunday is taken from ‘Speaking of Life,’ ( https://www.gci.org/videos/media-speaking-of-life/), a public resource video on the USA website of Grace Communion International. Greg Williams is President of Grace Communion International and lives in North Carolina, USA.

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