Sunday, June 07, 2009

making your theological enemy a birthday cake

The lectionary reading was 1 Corinthians 6:1-11. I groan inside. Lawsuits among Christians. Why drop that onto a congregation in New Zealand in 2009.

But verse 6 is surely a stand out. “Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?”

So here is Paul talking to a group of Christians. Some are lawyering up. They’ve been wronged. They’ve got rights.

To which Paul response seems to be: surprise them. Let yourself be wronged. Let yourself be cheated. Lose an argument. Give up that carpark. Bake your theological enemy a cake. Smile at migrants. Go on. Make someone’s week by losing a right.

I wonder what would happen if the church in New Zealand took that seriously?

Posted by steve at 10:32 PM


  1. Ironically I have been blogging along similar lines recently. Inspired by an article on that detailed the 5 types of Christians I wondered what it is that sets us apart. My conclusion was that grace is what makes the difference. We’re supposed to follow Jesus who was the living, walking, talking version of what grace is.

    Seems to me that pursuing grace might be considered reckless by some people, but Jesus was crucified without every claiming a single right (no phone call, no lawyer, no final meal …)

    Great thought, now if only I could manage to act on it!

    Comment by Mark — June 8, 2009 @ 2:20 pm

  2. I have thought a lot about this and the trickiness of the need to balance that with the need to pursue justice. And also, there’s the issue of someone doing something bad to you, and if you stand by and do nothing, they are free to go on and do the same to others. That’s always the guilt that women who are raped and don’t report it have. I guess it’s the same with everything else, that two truths can seem to be mutually exclusive but actually you have to learn to keep them in tension. Like I said, tricky.

    Comment by Sharyn — June 8, 2009 @ 4:03 pm

  3. Yep, it’s a tricky one Sharyn. Interesting to think about Jesus in this regard: what would have happened if he’d stood for justice rather than lose his rights on Easter Friday.


    Comment by steve — June 9, 2009 @ 3:33 pm

  4. I guess it’s like I said, a tension. Sometimes one approach is appropriate, sometimes the other. There are competing values and you have to make choices within the context.

    Comment by Sharyn — June 9, 2009 @ 6:13 pm

  5. It is a difficult tension to balance and hold. It’s one that is at the heart of Christian ethics and human life.

    One argument is that Jesus was always operating from an ultimate position of strength, being the incarnate Son of God and all, and he laid that advantage down voluntarily. Likewise, when engaged in a conflict Christians are to lay down in areas we are strong/have the advantage.

    But, I’m not sure if that solves anything, it could simply be regression.

    Just thinking out loud

    Comment by Paul — June 9, 2009 @ 7:00 pm

  6. Steve, all that you have said it true…but it is complex to walk through. We did so for 9 years through a complex, expensive law suit over a car accident (our car was crashed by someone else). Sometimes without any intention people find themselves dealing with the law, and lawyers become essential. It took 3 lawyers, and lots of money, before we found one who would represent us “non-vengefully”…and there were many, many moments of wanting to be vengeful as the process came close to destroying us financially and personally. Our oldest son is now a lawyer with a great interest in justice, who finds the fairly solid condemnation of Christians for all lawyers frustrating. He knows better than most what a difference a Christian lawyer can make to a life.

    Comment by kerry — June 11, 2009 @ 12:15 am

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