Monday, January 26, 2009

Beating Violence Simply and Creatively

Charles W. Colson, reformed Watergate politician and founder of Prison Fellowship, writes in a convicted fashion about many of his significant life lessons in Life Sentence.

He tells of being targeted by various members of the press for many political reasons. He writes about a young man, a gay rights activist, who interviewed him in San Francisco and then promptly ‘served him’ a chocolate meringue pie in quite painful fashion. His instinctive reaction was to punch him in the nose.

However, having read some of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship the previous day, the lingering words, “Violence stands condemned by its failure to evoke counter violence,” echoed in his mind.[1] Pressured to lay charges, he resisted, preferring to laugh it off.

On another occasion he was asked if his father’s death was attributable to his own sin. He was strongly tempted to fire back; but resisted the temptation, answering rather innocuously in the end. A few months later, this reporter died of a heart attack--had Colson retorted as he’d been tempted to, he would’ve regretted it for the rest of his life.[2]

When we suffer persecution gladly we defeat violence instantly each time. “Evil becomes a spent force when we put up no resistance.”[3]

The problem we have is we need practise in getting used to responding like this. And perhaps this is one reason we are persecuted, pushed, picked-on, and bullied? Let’s face it, we don’t respond this way naturally. They’re learning opportunities to apply counter-violence.

This is quite a challenge for every single person; we’re caught out so often, offended before we even realise, and defeated in the heart so quickly.

We have to work on it each day to become eventually ‘inoffendable.’ One proverb is perfectly appropriate here; out of the TNIV:

“A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”
–Proverbs 19:11.

Patience, even when it seems illogical, is the appropriate response to all our problems. Hard perhaps, yet it is found to be ironically and surprisingly simple.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
[1] Charles W. Colson, Life Sentence (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1979), p. 195.
[2] Colson, Ibid, p. 199.
[3] Colson, Ibid, p. 195. This is another direct quote from Bonhoeffer’s, The Cost of Discipleship.

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