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Reconciliation, not revenge

by davesandel on November 19th, 2022

Saturday, November 19, 2022

(click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

Reconciliation, not revenge

What Walter Wink calls redemptive violence has a dear place in our cinematic hearts. Watching a movie I anticipate the moment when evil, seemingly triumphant, falls to the ground not to get up again, fatally stabbed by goodness, usually in the guise of a guy who looks like me. This is addictive, it’s a cheap thrill, and it accentuates division as well as all-or-nothing thinking. I win … you lose.

On the other hand, here it is that very redemptive violence in Revelation 11.

Here are my two witnesses: two olive trees and two lampstands (the Holy Spirit’s anointing in the churches). When they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises out of the abyss will conquer and kill them. Their corpses will lie in the street. Every people, tribe, tongue and nation will gloat over them and be glad, because these two prophets tormented the inhabitants of the earth.

Whose side are you on? I too am an inhabitant of the earth, but I cherish anointing from the Holy Spirit and the church has continually turned me back toward God (in spite of itself sometimes). Not so for everyone, though. The gloaters are about to have the tables turned. What they thought was consolation (in Ignatius’ language) will turn to desolation.

But after three and a half days, a breath of life from God entered the bodies of the two witnesses. When they stood on their feet, great fear fell on those who saw them.

I sit back in my cinema seat. All the breath is knocked out of me. I can’t get my eyes to even blink. I want to shout, and so does everyone else in the theater. We are going to win! God is not dead!

Then they heard a loud voice from heaven say to them, “Come up here.” And they went up to heaven in a cloud as their enemies looked on.

Beginning in 1984 (George Orwell would be proud), Walter Wink (whose wife is a dancer and whose son Chris helped found the Blue Man Group), began his trilogy on the “powers that be.” Paul tell us that our struggle is against the authorities within this present darkness, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. But Professor Wink (born 1935 in Dallas, Texas) pushed that envelope to include “corresponding political theologies and ideologies of state violence.” Non-violence is the progressive and proper response.

Blessed be the Lord, my Rock, who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war.

But we support those “authorities” in spite of ourselves, acclimated through story after story, movie after movie in which our sense of self-righteousness builds into an eruption. The magnificent seven destroy the dastardly ten, and we are always, of course, on the magnificent side,which is the side of authority, power, the American way, the powers that be. Or else by cheap false alchemy, through their violent victory the outsiders gain power and prestige and become themselves … the powers that be.

God, you are my shield, in whom I trust, who subdues my people under me.

Oh yeah, power corrupts, as they say, but we don’t think so, as we quietly, unconsciously, join those forces of evil ourselves.

There are many biblical stories that pump redemptive violence into our bloodstream. But they are not the final word. Jesus has the final word.

And our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death and brought life to light through the Gospel.

(Revelation 11, Psalm 144, 2 Timothy 1, Luke 20)

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One Comment
  1. Ken permalink

    Dave, extra good today, do you have my mind bugged? Power and peace are sure hard to mesh into God’s will!

    Peace & Love


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