To be a follower of Jesus … means … to see through every regime that promises peace through violence, peace through domination, peace through genocide, peace through exclusion and intimidation. Following Jesus … means forming communion that seeks peace through justice, generosity, and mutual concern, a willingness to suffer persecution but a refusal to inflict it on others.
Brian D. McLaren, Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope
Transformed life can only be found through confusion, struggle, literal and metaphorical deaths because we understand only from within the constellation of our present suffering.
Mark Vernon in Third Way, October 2013
When Christians try to exercise power as if it were God doing it, cruelty and suffering and tyranny follow swiftly. In short order, we get the steely-eyed monks of the Inquisition trying to drag the Moors and Jews of Spain into perfect orthodoxy, one fingernail at a time; we get the theocrats of Protestant New England hanging Quakers …; we get holy war, with weapons of ever-increasing sophistication. We get Guantánamo.
Francis Spufford, Unapologetic
Here’s another insightful quote from John Swinton’s Raging with Compassion: Pastoral Responses to the Problem of Evil:
Sin, evil, and suffering … are secondary realities, intruders into the goodness of the world. As such they require, indeed demand, to be resisted in faith and hope rather than resigned to with stoicism and despair. Goodness is our original state …. The turn towards evil drags us into a state that is alien to the desired purposes of the creator. The presence of evil separates us not only from God, but also from our true selves. As such it needs to be strongly resisted. Resistance relates to the faithful participation in Christ’s redemptive movement in the world now and in the future. Evil is that which blocks and fragments Christ’s work of reclamation, restoration, and redemption and prevents human beings from experiencing the loving presence of God in and for the world.
Because of [faith], you freely, willingly, and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace.
Thus Martin Luther in ‘An Introduction to St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans’, quoted by John Swinton, Raging with Compassion: Pastoral Responses to the Problem of Evil. Swinton goes on to say that:
Faith … is countercultural. It is not a work of reason; indeed, it is not something that, on their own, human beings can achieve at all. It is an act of God’s grace wherein a person learns what it means to live in the power of the Holy Spirit and to love God in all things, even in suffering.
‘Taking up the cross’ in costly discipleship means a willingness to struggle against evil, for the sake of fullness of life, for the ‘bringing back of beauty’. It does not mean the passive acceptance of imposed suffering. Rather it means resistance to any pain or violence unjustly inflicted and an affirmation of abundant life for all. It means prioritizing love and justice inseparably intertwined.
Mary Grey, To Rwanda and Back: Liberation, Spirituality and Reconciliation
Belief in a God of infinite mercy and transforming love means [to] hold on to the belief that there is no place from which God is absent. […] God’s silence signifies not absence, but total engagement. God becomes silent in order to be with the silenced. It is an ultimate act of love to be able to enter the awful silence and suffer together.
This, once again, is from Barbara Glasson, A Spirituality of Survival: Enabling a Response to Trauma and Abuse.