on hurting a burgler

assume you live alone, and are home alone, in your apartment, asleep in bed, when you realize that your apartment is being broken into, downstairs.

what is the proper course of action for a follower of christ?

don’t assume you have, or don’t have, a gun, a bat, a tazer, or any other weapon: all of those choices that are made ahead of time play into your answer.


the protection of one’s “belongings” are never worth violence.

we are warned, by jesus, against anger — let alone acting in anger against one who seeks to impose their will upon us.

we are instructed to treasure heavenly things (people, god, love) and not earthly things (dvds, tvs).

further, we are instructed to give to anyone who asks of us.

we are instructed to greet evil with kindness.

we are instructed to consider others as more important than ourselves.

i see no room in the scripture for “exceptions” to these instructions.

trying to improve one’s life through the accumulation of (let alone the violent protection of) “stuff” is antithetical to the very existence of one who follows christ.

if we are truly treasuring heavenly things, we will care more for the burglar than we will for our “things”.

it seems responsible, at first blush, to look out for our own safety.

but what is “safe”, really?

who holds our safety?

i can’t imagine the christ cowering in his bedroom, praying to god to help him stay alive.

rather, i imagine he’d call out, in some way that makes known that no harm is intended:

“hello there?

i have no plans to call the police. is there something you need?

i usually offer my guests something. can i get you a drink of water?”

we are told never to fear.

surely this isn’t just “pretty worlds”?

could jesus really mean to never, under any circumstances, fear anything, other than god?

i believe that is exactly what he means.

i think that jesus means, quite literally, that we are to greet a burglar in our home with kindness, not vengeful anger, or even the hope of retribution.

that if i am truly following christ, my thoughts will be on loving this person into the kingdom, somehow.

we are told explicitly to turn the other cheek.

are we to act out in a first-strike manner when our cheek has not even been struck?

we are simply instructed to turn our cheeks. this, i beleive, means to remain vulnerable to any and all attacks, not just physical, to our person, be they attacks on our ego, or on our our pride, or on our sensitive feelings, or, yes, even on our cheeks.

i don’t see room for exception to this, and, if you study the sermon on the mount as a whole, and look at “turning the other cheek” in its proper context, you’ll see that it is a major component of living a life in the kingdom.

we who follow jesus are, simply, to make it a habit of not meeting spite with spite, or sarcasm with sarcasm, or hate with hate, or force with force, but instead we are to treat all comers with love.

it is up to you whether you own a weapon, and it is up to you whether you think it is best to use that weapon against a human being.

my take is that the situations calling for violence against another human being (weapons or no) must be exceedingly rare.

i would think, perhaps, there’s been 1, ever. (when jesus himself drove people from the temple area)

like i said, i trust him with such acts, but never myself.

i do not believe i could ever be trusted to do it lovingly. i’m sure there’d always be some amount of selfishness driving my behavior.

of course, the idea of complete safety is absurd — if you are only considering what we can see.

but if you are living in the kingdom of god that jesus preached, the one where the father who created the universe and knows how many hairs are on your head, and who gives good gifts, and takes perfectly good care of the birds…

well, if you truly trust and serve such a god, and live in such a kingdom, then you can always walk unafraid.

for you are serving and laying up treasures where moth and rust do NOT destroy, and where thieves do NOT break in an steal.

fear god only. serve god only.

lord knows i could do better at this.

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1 thought on “on hurting a burgler

  1. Chris, I concur with much of what your saying. As difficult as it might be to follow the course of “loving our enemies”, we are indeed called to that. Does that mean that violence is never appropriate? Jean and I have had this discussion many times, especially in light of Jesus’ less-than-cordial actions when confronting evil in the temple.

    The one thing that is always difficult about such circumstances and the questions which follow is that “turning the other cheek” is mandated as it relates to how I am to act when evil is perpetrated upon me personally. But, what about when evil comes against those under my care (e.g. my wife and kids or family members)? What is the proper course of action under such circumstances? Certainly, I would love to believe that by showing kindness we might be able to talk our way out of situation and so defuse the potential for violence. But what if that doesn’t work? Is the use of violence appropriate in the defense of those who I’m called to protect? Just something to think about…

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