"Kill them with kindness" my Mom said.
I was frustrated with other junior high-aged kids at school that were making fun of me for wearing a cross, which I was wearing because of recently increasing convictions about my faith in God and acceptance of Jesus into my life in a more intentional way. I wanted them to respect me for believing in something, and I was angry enough to berate them for seeming not to believe in anything. So I wanted to interact with them in the way they interacted with me--I wanted to make fun of them for being shallow, for not thinking seriously about things--I wanted to make fun of them for not really thinking at all, for actually not being very smart. I wanted to feel superior to them like they were clearly feeling superior to me. I was ready to fight--at least with words, with insults, with just as bad of an attitude toward them as I was experiencing from them. I wanted to fight fire with fire. Mom's advice? "Kill them with kindness".
I have to admit that I didn't entirely understand what she meant. How could kindness kill? How could being nice help if they were being mean? How could respecting them when they were not respecting me be a winning strategy? I wanted to win. I wanted to crush them, and convince them that they were wrong. How could being kind help? And to go to the extent Mom did, how could it "kill" them?
Well, gosh. I know where she got it from. Jesus. Jesus conquered death by dying--out of love for the very people who put him there. Jesus taught us to love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us. And as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., sums it up: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
It's true. When I respected them, they came to respect me--other junior-high aged guys came to respect me. When you don't treat your enemy as an enemy--at least in that case, and in many other cases--then it is hard for that person to stay an enemy. Love can drive out hate.
In this way, love conquers. It doesn't conquer in a flashy, spectacular, carnage-laden way. There aren't dead bodies, and there isn't overwhelming force, and "shock and awe", and peace through strength. There is, however, backbone, and steadiness, and courage of conviction, and preternatural faith and trust in the face of all that would challenge that, in the face of how absurd it looks for that to be your approach, your posture.
Or, as 1 John 5:3-5 states it: "For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?"
PSALTER Psalm 98
1 O sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things.
His right hand and his holy arm
have gained him victory.
2 The Lord has made known his victory;
he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.
3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the victory of our God.
4 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises.
5 Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody.
6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord.
7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
the world and those who live in it.
8 Let the floods clap their hands;
let the hills sing together for joy
9 at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming
to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with equity.
NEW TESTAMENT 1 John 5:1-6
1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. 2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, 4for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. 5Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
6This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.