"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster."
Walter Wink uses this quote in The Powers That Be to emphasize the importance of doing our own spiritual work before engaging in non-violent action. He argues that we must learn to battle evil without evil making us over into its likeness. It does no good for us to try to oppose violence and injustice if we are not acting out in ways of peace and justice. Our medium must match our message. No wonder Jesus constantly cautions us to not return evil for evil, because in our tit-for-tat world of redemptive violence and revenge, it is incredibly difficult to stand up against the evils of our world without succumbing to their temptations.
Another idea that must be explored in this conversation is that in the midst of battle, it is easy to lose track of who is the enemy. We, in the church, can so easily get sidetracked in our battle with evil, picking fights with our own team members. Instead of working together toward a more healthy, peaceful world, we get distracted by denominational differences in theology and practice, and we fail to actually be good news to the world. I need to learn how to recognize my enemies, the systemic ways that evil pervades the world. The Apostle Paul is clear that we have enemies, the powers and principalities of this world, but I pray I will learn to know the difference between my brothers and sisters, my allies in the fight, and that which opposes the good news of God going forth in the world.
"You always become the thing you fight the most."