Abundant Living Vol. XX, Issue 5

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  – Luke 23:34 

I must confess that I have succumbed to being a bit of a Jack Reacher junkie in recent months, Jack Reacher, in case you are not familiar, being the main character in a series of popular crime thrillers by British novelist Lee Child.  A giant of a man – six-five, two-fifty, and former major in the army’s military police – Reacher’s post-military life consists of roaming from place to place, yet no place in particular, mostly by Greyhound bus, where he inevitably crosses paths with someone who needs help against some bad characters.  Not one to shy away from trouble, Reacher comes to the victims’ rescue where he employs his brawn, martial arts skills, street smarts, and law enforcement savvy to save the day.

Besides being classic good versus evil stories, what is so addictive about Reacher is that while he is never one to start a fight, neither does he back away, nor does he ever lose one – ever! – often taking on as many as eight or ten at a time.  (Not someone you want to encounter in a dark alley, unless he is on your side.)  And in the end, you can be assured that Reacher is going make things right for the victims he is defending.

I must confess, the real reason I am such a Reacher junkie is because I am entertained by the violence, a big guy beating up a bunch of thugs who deserve everything they get.  I suppose that is why good versus evil stories have always been so popular.

We love to cheer for people like Reacher, and all the other heroic cops and soldiers in the TV shows and movies we watch.  But what about those like Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr., also valiant warriors against evil, but whose methods were insistently nonviolent?  And what about Jesus who refused to resist his executioners despite his innocence?  “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” he prayed from the cross.  Yet, did not Jesus, Ghandi, and King defeat evil as surely as Reacher?

But we are entertained by the violence because it is easier and seems more fair, the bad guys getting their due.  Except for one difference.  In one instance violence eradicates the evildoers, but in the other nonviolence might actually win them over.  The first method is classic win-lose.  But Jesus’ method is win-win, and that is a radically different outcome.

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