“Love your enemies, and do good to those who hate you.”
Jesus was saying some difficult things, and most people, even Christians, still can’t understand. We want revenge. We want to see the bad guys get it in the end. Jesus, though, taught a radical way of looking at life, one only seen through the lens of resurrection.
When Jesus rose from the dead, guaranteeing the resurrection of our own bodies as his people when he returns, he put an end to the fear of death. We, as his people, know that even though we die, our deaths will be undone and we will live with Christ forever.
This doesn’t mean we want to die, or that we aren’t afraid of getting hurt or dying. Death is a bad thing, and to be avoided. It does mean, though, that we know we will live forever.
The wicked are never promised eternal life, although they will be resurrected to judgement, as we saw on Monday. The Bible uses language of destruction meant to assure that they will never again trouble the righteous once Jesus returns.
Evil tends to destroy itself. The mutineers in the famous novel Treasure Island took over the ship, forced the faithful remnant of the crew to the island, and bombarded them with a cannon. They badly outnumbered the captain and his men, but as the novel progressed, the pirates looked less and less threatening.
Some died fighting each other, drunk with rum and armed with knives. Others fell sick in the swampy marshland, knowing nothing about basic hygiene. They became frustrated when they couldn’t secure the treasure map, and even tried to mutiny against their mutinous cook-turned-captain John Silver. All the faithful crew had to do was wait until their numbers were depleted, and then they found the treasure without much resistance. By their own vices, the mutineers had rendered themselves powerless.
If there was no resurrection, revenge would be a worthwhile activity. Wicked people would really be taking something from the righteous when they steal or kill, something that could never be given back. But Christ has risen from the dead, and we will too. There is nothing the unregenerate can ultimately do to us.
That is why we can do good to those who mistreat us. Because we don’t have to be afraid of them.