At 3 o’clock this morning there was a creepy homeless man in my house. I deducted he was homeless by the sound of his raspy laughter, like he was laughing at the fact that he was actually in my house. It wasn’t actually surprising to me that there was someone in my house, because on most days, we don’t lock our doors. To explain that briefly, here goes: I don’t see the things that I have as things to protect, but to share. Most of what we own has been given to us, and we are grateful for it. But, I figure if anyone is going to break into my house or my car to steal my stuff, I might as well not also have to repair a lock or a window in the process. I assume that the person who is desperate enough to steal my junk might, likely, need it more than I do. But that’s beside the point. The point is, there was someone in my house.
I shot up out of bed, thinking about my kids sleeping upstairs. “What in the world is someone doing standing inside my front door just laughing to himself?”, I thought. I didn’t want to freak my wife out, so I got out of bed and started towards the stairs (we sleep downstairs, the kids sleep upstairs), as I was sure the laughter was coming from upstairs. And it was rhythmic, like, “He he, he he, hehehe.” Like the clown from IT was standing right in my entryway plotting some sort of evil.
As I exited the bedroom, cautiously, I started thinking about how the inevitable interaction was going to look. After all, I have been writing about non-violence a lot in the past weeks. How I handled this situation was going to be telling of my true character. I thought, “I don’t want to get into a fight with this guy, so maybe I can reason with him,” as I took the next few steps towards the stairs. Also, the only other time that I have been confronted by a homeless guy, my nervous system shut down. You probably have heard of fight or flight. There’s another common response that people have when confronted by a violent interaction called freeze. That’s me. My faculties slow and my voice comes out like a deaf person, well, mostly just a bunch of beeping. I wondered if I could beep this guy out the front door.
I took a few steps up the stairs and noticed the front door was dead-bolted. “Jessey must have locked the front door,” I thought. Then I observed that the back door was slightly open, and then I started freaking out. Two more steps up the stairs, and I realized that the laughter was not coming from upstairs, like it was behind me. I shrugged, and went back into my bedroom (it was 3 in the morning, and I wasn’t thinking clearly). I got back into bed, and I heard the laughter again. It was my wife, snoring.
Throughout the day today, I kept thinking about non-violence when it comes to an intruder in my house. I really wasn’t sure how to think about it. Non-violence is never easy. If there had been a creepy, It-like, homeless guy in my house, what would I have done? Would I have pushed him out the front door, swearing at him? Would I try to reason with the crazy person laughing in my house? Would I just shut down?
Men often think that the manly thing to do is to fight, or even kill, anyone who would dare mess with their house or their family. We rationalize this as Christians by pointing to either God in the Old Testament, Jesus clearing out the temple, or Jesus riding on a white horse in Revelation with his white garments stained with the blood of the evil-doers. I think this is off-base. I think that Jesus taught us that the truly manly thing to do is to love the evil out of the world.
I thought today about the woman caught in adultery, and how Jesus challenged the hate-filled crowd with this: “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” The story is interesting, because Jesus was signaling that he was the only one present who had the Old Testament right to kill the adulterous woman. He was the one without sin. But, after the angry-mob dissipated, he asked the woman, “Where are your accusers?” He didn’t man-up and kill the woman. He simply challenged her to, “Go, and sin no more.”
Jesus desires that we do not sin in our anger. He told Peter to put away his sword. He implied that fighting was the weak option. The truly strong person chooses a higher road. The manliest thing that Jesus ever taught us to do is to love our enemies, and pray for the one’s who persecute us. To turn the other cheek. To walk an extra mile. To give to the one who asks something of us without expecting anything in return. To wash someone’s feet. To die for our friends. Not fight for them, but die for them.
I love my family enough to resist evil by refusing to fight, even if it means to die for them. I love my enemy enough to refuse to take his life from him. I want my children to grow up knowing the way of Jesus, and to be an example of his way for them. And his way, I think, is to do everything in my power to remain at peace with everyone, and to let God be in charge of the outcome of any situation.
I think the fake homeless man in my entryway taught me something today. He taught me what it means to really be a man. He taught me that the way of Jesus, submitting to evil even to the point of death, is the only way that anything will ever change. I am grateful for the fake intrusion this morning. It challenged me to be who I say that I am. I won’t apologize for that.