[Anabaptists: The Web's first conservative site introducing Mennonites, their history and their beliefs.] NewGuideHistoryDoctrineWritingsBookstore
EspañolChurch LocatorRSS
to the glory of God and the edification of people everywhere

The Christian and His Adversaries

(Matthew 5:38-48)

Lesson 11 -- second quarter 1996
May 12, 1996

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1996, Christian Light Publications

When does nonresistance end?
Why two miles?
Publicans, or children of the Father?

Yesterday evening, on our way to prayer meeting, a pick-up passed us as we pulled out of town. The passenger leaned out the window to . . . well, I'm not sure what he wanted to communicate. Intimidation? Anger? Foolishness? My first desire was to throttle up (454's keep up with most things on the road). The next desire was to simply follow him till he stopped, so I could find out what the deal was. Now, tell me, what should have been my reaction?

Nonresistance is often measured by actions: we don't go to war, we don't serve on police forces, we don't sue, we don't retaliate, we don't pursue foolish or antagonistic drivers. However, let's not forget that it is possible to act in a nonresistant manner without necessarily being nonresistant. True nonresistance finds its most accurate measure in the hidden response of the heart.

If our responses stop with an act of nonresistance, our nonresistance has ended too soon! This lesson's printed text clearly demands more of us than simply accepting a wrong or not retaliating. We must also bless, pray for, return good to and love the offender and the aggressor. Nonresistance at its best is an attitude.

"And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain." What a radical command! Give your adversary more than he demands of you! Why would Jesus outline such a response?

When someone compels me to do something, the implication is I do it against my will. Moreover, I comply for selfish reasons: I fear the consequences of noncompliance. However, after I have fulfilled my duty or obligation to the individual, Jesus says I must choose to do it again. This time my will is to do it; I am not compelled by the other. Furthermore, I do it for selfless reasons: I want to bless my adversary.

Why two miles? To double the blessing to my adversary. To change my reasons for complying. To give me an opportunity to be with my adversary instead of against him. To change my focus from me to him. To give me an opportunity to turn an adversary into a friend.

Sinners love their friends. They bless their benefactors. They often return good for good. They help the deserving and those who can reciprocate. In other words, positive stimuli prompt sinners' positive responses.

The children of God love everyone, including their enemies. They bless everyone, including those who curse them, hate them, abuse them and persecute them. They always return good for good, and good for evil. They are especially keen to help the undeserving and those who cannot help them in return. In other words, the responses of the children of God spring from within them, not from external stimuli.

Sinners respond after the dictates of the flesh; God's children respond after the Spirit of God in them. Were your responses this week that of a sinner or of a child of God?

Return to Sunday School Comments index

[Anabaptists: The Web Page]