in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus told us not to resist an evil man. There are no qualifications listed, no exceptions to the rule. Simply “do not resist”…it is a law of His kingdom.
Paul expands on this teaching in Romans 12 when he tells us, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” There is a big difference between resisting evil (fighting back), and overcoming evil with good.
To “not resist” evil is more than mere passivity. Jesus makes this point in Matthew 5, “Whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.” These acts are more than mere passive victimhood, as many have assumed. By turning the cheek, we cause the other to strike us twice, exposing his cruelty. By the giving of our cloak, our nakedness exposes his lack of mercy and general decency.
Jesus instructions allow us to expose the evil in our enemy for what it is. In this way, the very act of non-resistance becomes a powerful weapon.
Love always overcomes evil. It cannot be struck down, though the evil man may try. In fact, that very act of violence only further reinforces what love truly is.
Love is the contrast, exposing evil for what it really is. Peace is more than simply the absence of war. Non-resistance is an active response to violence. It is showing love in the face of hate, mercy in the face of violence, kindness in the face of cruelty.
As followers of Christ it is not ours to fight back against evil. The world has told us it is the only way to overcome evil. But this is not so. Violence only and always perpetuates more violence. Jesus has shown us the more excellent way, and that is to overcome evil with good.