Chapter Ten: Extremists for Love

“‘These are extreme times,’ Dr King said. ‘The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love?‘ The world has seen Christian extremists who will blow up abortion clinics and dance on the doctor’s graves. We have seen Christian extremists who hold up signs that say, ‘God hates fags.’ The world has seen Christian extremists who declare war in the name of the Lamb. But where are the Christian extremists for love and grace?” (p. 259). Have you known some extremists for love and grace?

Author Walter Wink does brilliant work demonstrating Jesus’ creativity in his teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. Talking about the familiar ‘turn the other cheek’ verses, Wink points out that Jesus is not suggesting that we masochistically let people step all over us. Instead, Jesus is pointing us toward something that imaginatively disarms others. When hit on the cheek, turn and look the person in the eye. Do not cower and do not punch them back. Make sure they look into your eyes and see your sacred humanity., and it will be increasingly harder for them to hurt you. When someone tries to sue you for the coat on your back and drags you before the court, go ahead and take all of your clothes off and hand them over, exposing the sickness of their greed. When a soldier asks you to walk a mile with them and carry their pack (as was Roman law and custom), don’t throw your fists in the air like the Zealots, just walk with them two miles instead of one, talk with them and woo them into our movement by your love.” (p. 267). Claiborne goes on to talk about the third way that Jesus teaches (that Wink talks about) and the prophetic imagination that can interrupt violence and oppression. What examples have you seen or heard about that have felt like prophetic imagination at work to disrupt oppressive systems?