The End of Revenge: Easter’s Silent Miracle

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There is a silent miracle hidden in the story of Jesus’s death and resurrection. But I’ve never seen a preacher or commentator point it out.

As we know, Jesus was unjustly arrested, brutally tortured, and horrifically executed by the religious and political leaders of his society. The Roman invention of crucifixion was meant to maximize agony and anguish. Perhaps more painful than his physical suffering, Jesus died in betrayal, abandonment, and mockery.

That’s what Jesus got after “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16). That was Jesus’s reward for proclaiming good news to the poor, declaring freedom for prisoners, opening the eyes of the blind, and speaking God’s blessing (Luke 4:18-19).

It’s hard to imagine greater justification for righteous anger and brutal revenge. After all, Jesus was known as the “son of David.”

If we look at the end of King David’s story, bitter anger and brutal revenge is exactly what we find... Read More

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Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Jesus and Resistance to Injustice

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Dear friends,

It’s been moving to receive messages from abuse survivors in response to my essays on Jesus’s condemnation of abuse and Aquinas’s love-based defense of opposing injustice. Thank you for writing.

This week, my essay will be a bit longer as I dive deeper into this topic of loving our neighbors – enemies and the abused – as ourselves. I look at the ethics of resistance in Jesus’s teaching and practice.

Thanks as always for stopping and thinking with me on these important, very practical topics!

Yours,
Andrew

Thanks to our newest monthly supporter, Lindsay, and the 30 supporters who make this writing possible.

Introduction

Last week, I concluded my essay by asking if Jesus supported principled resistance to injustice.

This question arose from Thomas Aquinas’s argument that forcefully opposing an abuser can actually be an act of love. For Aquinas, when we stop injustice, (1) we love our victimized neighbors by protecting them; (2) we love our abusive neighbor by giving them the chance to repent and be restored; and (3) we love our abusive neighbor by preventing them from further damning themselves, even if they don’t repent... Read More

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Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Enemy-Love, Abuse, and Thomas Aquinas

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Two of my recent essays have pointed to a deep tension in Christian ethics rooted in Jesus’s own teaching.

The first essay – “How Should We Treat Our Enemies?” – unpacked Jesus’s groundbreaking command to love our enemies. Jesus taught this command so emphatically that he seems to require obeying it as a condition for salvation: “Love your enemies…that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45; Luke 6:35). As we know, Jesus himself died asking God to forgive his killers (Luke 23:34).

The second essay – “Jesus’s Condemnation of Abuse” – unpacked Jesus’s fierce teaching against abuse. Jesus was so severe that he said it would be better to die a terrifying death than to harm a vulnerable person (Matthew 18:6-9; Mark 9:42-50; Luke 17:1-5). Jesus had zero tolerance for abusive behavior.

If you only read my first essay, you might think that Jesus wants us to “love” our abusers and “sacrificially” accept their violence like he did on the cross... Read More

  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Jesus’s Condemnation of Abuse

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Dear friends,

Two weeks ago, I asked the question, “How should we treat our enemies?” and unpacked Jesus’s unprecedented answer to this question. Jesus taught that we should love our enemies – not to intensify divine payback in the afterlife, not to prove our moral superiority over them, not even to convert them to our religion. Jesus taught that we should love our enemies and will their flourishing simply because this is God’s character and command for us. God is an enemy-lover, so we should be too.

But a reader replied and told me that she thought my essay was one-sided and potentially harmful in light of her experience of abuse. She wrote, “Sometimes I may love the enemy too much and lose my own health and ability to function… It would not be right to act maliciously against them. But I may have to say no to helping them further.”

I agree with her, and I think Jesus did too... Read More

  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Do You Want to Go to Heaven When You Die?

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Do you want to go to heaven when you die?

That’s the urgent question many preachers ask us in church. In fact, it’s the climax of the show and how many churches measure their success. The assumption is that everyone wants to go to heaven when they die.

But what if that’s not true?

In fact, what if many Bible-reading, church-going, God-blessing Christians don’t want to go to heaven when they die? What if heaven will be hellish for a lot of us?

Stop and think: What is heaven?

According to the Bible, heaven will be the ultimate mashup party of the world’s diversity. Heaven will make the United Nations look homogenous by comparison.

Again and again, the Book of Revelation affirms that every kind of person will be there, united as one family in the self-sacrificing love of Jesus:

“persons from every tribe and language and people and nation” (5:9),

“[people] from every nation, tribe, people and language” (7:9),

“every nation, tribe, language and people” (14:6),

“all nations” (15:4)... Read More

  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

How Should We Treat Our Enemies?

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How Should We Treat Our Enemies?

In recent weeks, our newsfeeds have filled afresh with hatred, conflict, and deadly violence. The horrific terror attacks in Christchurch, which killed 50 Muslims, captured global attention. But sadly this wasn’t the only heartbreaking headline.

In southern Ethiopia, a humanitarian disaster is growing in the wake of conflict between Christians from rival tribes. A senior Christian leader from the region told me in an email that 135 churches have been burned to the ground and a million people driven from their homes. Much of this violence has been fueled by Christians who probably go to church on Sundays and declare, “Jesus is Lord.” The Guardian warns that a “shadow” is falling over Ethiopia.

These stories confront us with an urgent question: What should we do when others hate us and/or we hate them? How should we treat our enemies?

Jesus taught an unprecedented, counter-cultural answer to this life-and-death question. But his teaching is even more powerful when we see it in its larger historical context... Read More

  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Eyob: My Saint of Darkness

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I discovered neighbor-love in all of its agony, urgency, and hope through a suffering boy on the streets of Addis. His name was Eyob (Amharic for Job), and it was Saturday – May 1, 2010.

The Agony of Neighbor-Love

Eyob met me at the best and worst of times in my life.

In the months before, I was gripped by the agonizing grief of suffering and evil. The church I loved and hoped to serve for the rest of my life had excluded me. Lily attended another congregation and wasn’t ready to “submit” to my church’s leadership, so my pastor told me, “Get another job!” and shunned me. It felt like an excruciating spiritual divorce.

During this time, I was unexpectedly asked to preach one Sunday at the International Lutheran Church. Little did I know, that sermon was my first interview. Their pastor had found Addis too hard and left abruptly. I preached on the armor of God (“All is not right in the world!”), and the church’s leadership asked me to become their interim pastor... Read More

  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

You Are Precious: The Girl Who Taught Me Neighbor-Love

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A disabled girl on the streets of Addis taught me the revolutionary power of neighbor-love.

When I was a pastor at Beza International Church in 2005, I started a simple practice that changed my life. Rather than taking a taxi to work, I committed to walking on foot. My purpose was to save my taxi money and buy bread-and-banana meals for the street children on Africa Avenue, the road through Addis’s downtown. I wanted to get to know these kids and not pass them by.

As I walked day after day, I met a little girl named Wudenesh, whose name means “You Are Precious.” Wude was always with her even smaller brother Yonas. She walked slowly with the assistance of a clanky cane and sold sticks of gum, tissues, and cigarettes from a cardboard tray. Wude’s legs were badly disabled and her back was deformed.

Seeing this vulnerable little girl working on the streets after dark broke my heart. She was younger and smaller than my beloved niece Kayla back home... Read More

  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Announcing My Online Course: Neighbor-Love!

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Dear readers,

I’m excited to announce the launch of my first e-course called Neighbor-Love: A Revolutionary Idea That Could Save Our World. Click the link in the top right to learn more about the course! I am also including more background on why I believe this idea is so important below.

Special thanks to our newest monthly patron, Abigail!, and the 29 monthly subscribers who make my writing possible. We are almost at 30!

Yours,

Andrew

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Imagine putting on glasses that give you access to a totally new dimension of reality that changes the way you see everything else.

This is what neighbor-love was like in the ancient world. It was a revolutionary vision that transformed how people saw each other and unveiled a new, previously unimaginable world of dignity, generosity, justice, and hope for all people.

Even the most famous ancient philosophers believed that whole groups of people were less than human. Plato argued that disabled people, weak elders, and foreigners should either be excluded or eliminated... Read More

  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Tributes to My Parents

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Dear friends,

Lily and I had the gift of celebrating my mom’s 73rd birthday (January 7) and my dad’s 75th birthday (February 9) in person this year. With each passing year, I cherish them more and more, and see the beauty of God in their character.

This week, I pause to honor them and share tributes that I wrote for their birthdays. I hope they encourage you to stop and give thanks for gifts in your own life. Happy birthday, Mom and Dad! Thanks for loving and leading me so well.

Lastly, on February 1, my friend Etsegenet Berhanu launched the Parenting Forum in Addis Ababa, a monthly event to help parents become more intentional in how they raise their children and thus shape the future. I’m excited for her groundbreaking work and offer these tributes as a grateful testimony to the power of parents who build homes founded on love in their own limited, lovely ways. Congratulations, Etsegenet!.. Read More

  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.