Let me tell you another tale. In 1975 Eldridge Cleaver was “born-again.” Beginning in his teenage years, he was involved in petty crime and spent time in detention centers. In 1957 Cleaver was arrested for committing rape and was convicted of assault with intent to murder. He was an admitted serial rapist and murderer; later became the head of the Black Panthers and arrested many times for crimes of terrorism.
After becoming a disciple of Jesus, he said in an interview that while he was a Black Panther he was filled with a terrible, roiling feeling of hatred and violence against any law enforcement agency. He couldn’t help himself. Every time he would get with them, he would feel this terrible sense of anger and murder and rage within him. It made him the leader of the Black Panthers, the violent militants of the early ’60s. However, in the south of France, in a balcony overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, he had a vision, an inner view, of the face of Jesus Christ, coming out of his boyhood to him. It drove him to reading the Scriptures. He read Psalm 23 repeatedly. He said that ever since that time on the balcony, he had never had that feeling of hatred again. He had looked for it, and expected it, but instead there was a feeling of love for everyone he met.
Now, that is what Jesus Christ is capable of doing. He gives all of His followers the power to love. If we simply choose to exercise this power in the moment that needs it, we can release in this world this radical, radical force that has the power to change everything around us. It will change our homes, our lives, our communities, our nations, the world—because a risen Lord is available to us, to live through us. I love J.B. Philips’ translation of this last verse:
Let us be Christ’s men from head to foot, and give no chance to the flesh to have its fling. (Romans 13:14)
That is the way to live!
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Letter to Christians at Rome