July 17, 2017
Katy Callahan authored a blog post about how to put love into action that caught my attention. When Jesus was about to be arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter didn’t sling ugly tweets or post angry rants on facebook, but he did draw his sword. What can we learn from Jesus about how we are to respond when we or others are treated unjustly?
1. We react in anger; Jesus responds in self-sacrifice
Here is the Lord about to be arrested and probably killed, despite being innocent of any wrongdoing. It’s no wonder that in that moment of anger and desperation, Peter’s first instinct is to draw his sword. But Jesus tells Peter, “Put your sword back in its place! Do you think that I will not drink the cup of suffering which my Father has given me?” (John 18:11). Jesus chooses to submit to a brutal death he does not deserve. He tells his disciples beforehand, and they refuse to believe it. It’s confounding, but Jesus knows his purpose and is willing to pour out his life for others.
2. Love is not passive
We must show love and resist lashing out in anger towards those who disagree with us—or even oppress us. Didn’t Jesus teach throughout his ministry to love our enemies, do good to those who persecute us, to turn the other cheek? (Matthew 5:39) When Jesus says, “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek too,” he isn’t telling them to give into wrongdoing. He is teaching his followers not to take revenge on those who have wronged them, and to not become bitter. This is a tremendous act of love—to defend the defenselessness, to stand firmly in justice, without retaliating in violence or harboring resentment.
3. Love is beyond our emotions
Getting emotional about injustice is human. But Jesus, while bold, doesn’t indulge his emotions. Everything he does is lined up with God’s will and is meant to honor his Father—to build up others. His ultimate act of justice is also his meekest moment. In surrendering himself to crucifixion, he allows the relationship between God and people to be restored. Jesus’s words and actions were always motivated by his love for others. When we choose love and pursue God’s justice, we look beyond our emotions, speaking truth to others without condemnation. Rather than demonizing our opponents we extend kindness. We consider how to care for those who are hurting, putting our love into action. Instead of destroying bonds, we leave judgment up to God, and participate in God’s work of restoration.
What will it take for us to put love into action like Jesus—even when we’re tempted to let our anger get the better of us?