This week, we’re exploring Jesus’ teachings in the context of this crisis. What did our Lord teach about responding to violence? Consider two principles, each of which depends on the other.
One: Refuse to return violence for violence. When Peter attacked the servant of the high priest in defending Jesus, our Lord told him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). He wanted us to break the cycle of vengeance, not perpetuate it.
Two: Seek justice. Jesus described a woman who continued to seek “justice against my adversary” from the court (Luke 18:3). The Bible affirms our responsibility for self-defense (cf. Exodus 22:2–3; Proverbs 25:26; Psalm 144:1). When the proper authority prosecutes crime, it “carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:4).
Just as it is illogical to blame all police officers for the actions of some, it is illogical to blame peaceful protesters for the violence of some. But it is also illogical to honor the memory of one victim by victimizing others.
Conversely, it is logical to treat others as we wish to be treated. Just as people tend to return violence for violence and hate for hate, they tend to return grace for grace and love for love.
What’s more, this ethic is the command of our Lord (Matthew 7:12) for all people, at all times, in all places.
Including you and me today.