Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness, and being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death - even death on a cross.
The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward. I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from the insult and spitting.
By meeting the world’s violence with non-violent dissent, and its hatred with love so strong that he could pray for forgiveness for those who had betrayed him to his death, Christ challenges our entire understanding of conflict and its resolution. Those who incite violence and hatred expect to be met with either fear or anger; a retreat, or a return of their own violence, an eye for an eye, or at least angry curses. Anger begets anger, hatred begets hatred, and violence merely continues the endless cycle of violence, the passing of earthly power from one ruler to another.
The non-violent response described in today’s readings undermines that cycle, rejecting human structures of power and conflict. In this way, Christ’s sacrifice is not merely redemptive, but instructive. Doing what is expected, what is easy, what feels natural, may solve our problems for a day, for a year, but human power structures, human hierarchies, human approaches to conflict resolution, will not ultimately bring us closer to God. Only by rejecting those societal expectations can we truly learn to love one another more fully, to draw ever closer to the mind of God, and to usher in God’s kingdom on earth.