Revenge fantasies, are they healthy? There is a modern trend in Psychology that is saying, “yes fantasying about revenge is not only normal but healthy for a person.” The idea is that as a victim you have no voice and that by being given the opportunity to live out a “fantasy of revenge” you gain strength and can be heard. These fantasies are lived out in a controlled setting and not acted upon but just fantasized.
I am not a psychologist or even a counselor of sorts. So, I am not commenting on my opinion about such a system, but I do recognize in my life that I have relished such quiet times where I could plot a comeuppance for someone who has wronged me. A boss, co-worker, or just the nagging satellite salesman at the store. I understand and have partaken in the release that is felt through such fantasies and can understand the findings that I have read.
But I don’t see this as a teaching of Jesus. Paul, maybe, when he talks about being kind to your enemies as this heap burning coals on one’s head, but I think there could even be a historical debate about that language. Today I want to focus on what Jesus says about the matter. In Matthews words in Chapter 5:38-48 Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile and to love your enemy. Jesus says life is not fantasying about revenge but to reaching out in love to your enemies.
Many of us, myself included having looked at this from purely our American roots of “can do attitude” and have felt that Jesus must be a passivist. Well per dictonary.com the definition of passive is “not reacting visibly to something that might be expected to produce manifestations of emotion or feeling.” In other words a disengage of the one person to the actions of another. But Jesus says to turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile, make them your friend. What Jesus is saying is not passive but engaging the other person just from the standpoint of love, not anger.
Jesus is not looking for us to lay down when beaten but to stand back up and pray for those that are beating you to be saved. Jesus teachings were radical in the first century, and it is a radical thought today as well. While modern psychology says, it’s okay to be a victim and fantasy about revenge Jesus says no it is not okay. Jesus teaches to love those oppressing us. When you love those, who try to victimize you remove their power. Oppressors need you to be a victim, but if you refuse to act like one they can no longer oppress you, this is the radical teachings of Jesus.
Jesus is looking for superheroes. Jesus wants superheroes that can practice radical teachings. The kind of hero that can stand for injustice without playing the victim card. The kind that says I can love you even though you are trying to hurt me. I can love you even though we do not agree. I can love because I have been loved by the one who is love.