Thursday, September 14, 2006

Vengeance

I received an article from a friend in the USA today entitled 'Avenge not Yourselves' written by Rev Kenneth Koole in the journal known as The Standard Bearer - a Reformed Magazine. The full article is available on line, you can read it here www.rfpa.org/downloads/8219.pdf, though I wanted to draw some points from it.

Much of what the Koole chap is saying is what we have been learning from Romans 12 of late, and is pertinent to current situations, both personally and nationally. I wonder how much of what Paul tells us in Romans 12:17-19...

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"says the Lord.

...applies to the UK and USA in response to terrorists acts committed upon them, though obviously this should also apply to those who carried out such attacks who seek retribution themselves. Though maybe we as self declared Christian nations should go the 'extra mile', we should know better. As a side issue, what depth of requirement is there to 'turn the other cheek' in Islamic thought?

On a personal level this has to be 'the' hardest teachings of Jesus (turning the other cheek). So many believers struggle with things like baptism, gifts, millenlial teaching, revelation, hell, homosexuality, evolution etc etc.

It seems that keeping a hold on unforgiveness, vengeance, wrath, bitterness and remembering things from the past, wanting justice and retribution, really screws us up on the inside. Yet when we do what Jesus, and subsequently Paul teaches, we find ourselves in a unique place, it is a place of total freedom - freedom to love, to exhort, to aid and to be at peace.

One interesting point Koole makes, and one that raises more questions than it answers is his statement that, 'God promises that a day will come when He will open all the books and demand payment for every evil done. Those who have troubled and hurt His children will surely pay for all the evils they have done. In the Judgment Day God will avenge all His children for all the evils done to them'.

The problem that I have with this premise is that from my understanding Gods dealing with injustice is not saved till the last day, people are not going to be condemned for actions they do to 'Christians' in this lifetime, this is a very narrow view that posits a vindictive god, the giant cosmic ant squisher. Read John 3:18 to understand this train of thought.

Koole in the quote above says 'Those who have troubled and hurt His children will surely pay for all the evils they have done'

I cannot be sure on this, but I think he is thinking of those in the 'world' who persecute Christians, experience tells us different, most opposition and persecution comes from religious people. What of those who are Gods children and have hurt their brothers and sisters. What about the thousands upon thousands of believers who have been spiritually abused by other Christians, what happens to them? What do you think happens to them? What would you like to happen to them?

Let me save you the trouble of working it out, of trying to decide who are God's and who are not and how they should be paid back...for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"says the Lord.

All we do is live at peace with all men, are you living at peace with all men? Is there someone you have chosen not to be at peace with, hold out that olive branch, if they reject it then leave it in the hands of the One who can make a right judgement and get your hands back on the plough.

This above all else has been the mainstay of our fellowship over the last year or so, for all this teaching is based in the beatitudes of Jesus, it strikes us hard, yet it delivers us from evil, I pray this will charecterise us even more as we embark on our next venture in this town.

8 comments:

Meg said...

Hi, Dave,

Well, I'll "come out" as the friend who sent you the article... And I'm sorry if it caused you consternation. I so wanted to give you some comfort.

What I took comfort from in this article is the assertion that of those who engage in a pattern of hurting "other" Christians, can we assume that they are Christians? I don't. By their fruits shall we know them. A person, or a whole congregation, who descends on another person to slander, exclude, harass, abuse and insult that Christian, or to wreck a marriage, is/are likely not (a) Christian. No, we who belong to Him and whose transgressions have already been paid for are not going to pay for them again. And we must forgive 70 x 7. But He is going to punish those who don't belong to Him and who've hurt us. (Ezekiel 34; Jeremiah 23.) False pastors, false professors of faith in Him - He's going to exact His justice on them (we are to pray for mercy for them, of course, for that's what He did).

As to the U.S. and terrorists, we're at war here. I live in an area heavily populated by Arabs, where I must shop among and walk the streets alongside people wearing burkhas and turbans and who speak Arabic and Farsi. There are mosques all over the place here. Am I rude to these people? Absolutely not! Wouldn't dream of it! Whether they do or do not speak English, I'm unfailingly friendly to them. But these same people proclaim "death to the infidels" and that means me. This is a whole different society now than it was in 1942, when, long before I was born, they put Japanese people in internment camps after Pearl Harbor was bombed. And those were Japanese who considered themselves Americans. That was a disgrace. Now we have Arabs here who proudly shout "death to Americans" while they shop at Wal-Mart, live next-door to us, earn great money at good jobs here, etc. and we must include them in every facet of our society. They're elected to local political offices, even. My husband and I had some personal connections to some who were killed in the WTC. Turn the other cheek? I don't think so. Al-Qaeda must be defeated. If it defeats America, where will that leave the rest of the free world?

As to other Christians, I can't find a church around here with which I'm in 100% doctrinal agreement and so I've decided let things like eschatological differences just be. As long as a pastor or Messianic rabbi is preaching the real Gospel of Jesus Christ (or Yeshua HaMashiach) and exalting Him, I'm going to support that ministry. I do not support the PRCA 100%, either, that's for sure.

I was miserably abused by a minister. I will not detail the particulars anywhere. What would I like to see happen to him? First of all, I would like to see the Holy Spirit come into him and give him a new heart, just as He did me over a decade ago. Then I would like to see him out of the pulpit for awhile and into some rehab. Then he needs to apologize to the Lord, for it's against Him and Him only that he's sinned. (Psalm 51.) Then, according to Scripture, he does owe me and my family an apology. First, though, I pray for him to be saved by grace and for all eternity, justified by that matchless grace, mercy and love of our dear Heavenly Father and our Savior. Psalm 59:10 assures me that I will see my "desires upon my enemies" and I can rest in that promise. (The "earthly" part of me would like to take one free swing at him, but no: no way! :>)... I thank the Lord for Romans 7:24-25!)

No, Dave, you're right: we don't have the freedom not to be at peace with anyone as far as it is up to us. In fact, the last, pleading e-mail I sent to this particular minister had the subject line, "Romans 12:18 - please????" He ignored it. I tried to do things "according to the Book." Didn't work in this case.

I pray for peace for all situations that are currently visited upon everyone who stops by this blogspot. May the peace, grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ abide with and be poured out among all of you.

Dave said...

Hi Meg,

The article was comforting and reaffirming so no worries there, my point about the 'cheek turning' is simply that the message of Jesus is for me clearly the most radical and urgent message for the world today.

As for the non US born citizens in your district, I believe everyone should have a right to live wherever they find themselves, and once there they should abide by the laws of that land and should live peaceably with their neighbours, and those neighbours should watch over the alien and stranger in their land, thats the way of the Kingdom.

I wondered if Islam had non violent teachings akin to the sermon on the mount. I think Fatwa came post Mohammed, but need someone with more knowledge to tell me, maybe I will have to contact a muslim website.

Thanks for your passionate comment, I know how desperately you have been treated by those who should know a lot better, I also know people close to me who have been abused by unrepentant 'church' leaders, some have left that church, I hope many more do as it crumbles.

dinsy said...

Meg, thanks for both sending the article and for sharing this part of your story in such detail. I find your response to this minister inspirational and encouraging as well as an example to be followed by all of us.

I wish more church leaders and teachers, as well as followers and learners, would practice accountability and take responsibility for their teachings and actions. This is what we have been looking at over and over in one form or another over the last several months.

Dave has been showing us that just as he has to be accountable for his pastorship, we have to be accountable for the way in which we receive what he teaches (which includes disagreeing or amplifying it if necessary until we come to unity on a subject). And once he has taught us and we have all understood it, we are responsible for living it.

It is very challenging, and can be exciting to "do church" in this way. It makes the scriptures come alive when you read them as being directed to yourself rather than everything being reduced to a call to salvation to the unbelievers.

Dave said...

Thanks Dinsy,

It goes without saying, but I will say it anyway, I have an accountability to learn from what the community is teaching me, and living it, and for the way i receive teaching from God.

For instance, i wanted to act a certain way the other day, a way I thought was justified, yet someone in the community showed me this was not the way of the Kingdom, the Spirit confirmed it inwardly, I listened and responded, now I live in the freedom that has poured into my life.

Meg said...

Dave and Dinsy, thank you... You're such blessings - and proof positive that not even the Atlantic Ocean that roils, tosses and poses such a vast natural gulf between us stands as any barrier at all to the Lord's will that Christian brothers and sisters will be united, will be "one in Him."

Well, our "president" GWB believes - at least on videotape - that Islam is a peaceful religion. But my problem with that is the perennial one: is there any lasting or viable peace of any kind outside of (or should I say "outwith?") Jesus Christ? I can have peace with my Arab neighbors because I believe with every fiber of my being in Jesus. (I also believe in the sovereignty of God over their possible future salvation, but that's another debate! Maybe they'll someday believe!) However, at present they have no use for Christians and they're willing to kill us at the direction of their leaders.

In closing this post, I just want to say that I feel as though the Lord has done something very special for me in allowing me to have met on this blogspot Dave, Dinsy, Shieldsy, Peter - don't want to leave any of you out! - and everyone else here. I find insight into our Lord's Word and teachings here that I definitely don't find anywhere else. "Thank you" seems so lame (I don't know if you use that expression there) but I don't know how else to put it.

Wish it were possible for my husband and me to just show up some Lord's Day and worship our King with all of you. Know, though, that we're with you in spirit, and if and when the Lord wills, we will be together whether it's here on earth or in eternity.

May He bless you and keep you all, and give you an upcoming Sabbath that truly reflects the one that we'll all have with Him someday.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Dave

In Anabaptist surroundings the term is "non-resistance" and we arttempt to practice it with His Grace. The nation, however, as ordained of God (Rom 13), is responsible to maintain peace and defend our shores from invasion by hostile forces. There is no contradiction here as the nation is in the Earthly Kingdom and Christians are in the Heavenly one. This is a favorite theme of Jesus in His three year ministry. He said we could not serve both of these places at the same time - mammon being a figure for wordly things.

My peace comes from knowing my God appointed government will do the best it can while I concentrate my thoughts on Christ.

Dave

confused said...

Dave, The title of this post is "Vegence". It sounds as if you seek it as you hope many people leave the church as it crumbles. Nobody that is of the body of Christ would wish that.

Dave said...

Dear Confused (is that your real name) ?

Maybe you want to expand, where does my post say anything about me 'hoping many people leave the church as it crumbles'.

The church will never crumble, and if you read the post you would see that I was speaking about leaving vengeance to God.

 

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