Every week we hear of a brother or sister in Christ who has been robbed while walking the streets of a Brazilian city. Robberies are now so common that there is a common wisdom in Brazil for how to be safely robbed. The wisdom is “Do not resist”. This wisdom will save your life because the standard behavior of the thief is “Kill all who resist so others won’t.”
Jesus told His followers these things about resisting certain kinds of people.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your 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. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.” Matthew 5:38-42
Was Jesus predicting situations like robberies in modern Brazilian cities? At first glance the “don’t resist” wisdom of Brazil sounds a little like Jesus’ wisdom. Upon deeper examination one can see that Jesus’ wisdom is not about survival or avoiding pain , it is about holding tightly to love instead of less important things.
Jesus wants His disciples to value love over survival and material things. He also wants us to hang on tightly to Him and to love and to hold loosely everything else.
The Apostle Paul gave the early Christians this wisdom.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. II Corin. 4:16-18
As disciples we need to understand that all visible things are in decay and any strategy to hold on to them tightly is not wise in Brazil or anywhere else. On the other hand, all invisible things rooted in love are permanent and we must hold tightly to them even if it costs us our visible life to do so. That is called carrying our cross.
So, here is the Jesus wisdom for all times and all places.
Hold the visible very loosely and hold your love (cross) very tightly.
And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.