No Escape Clauses or Release Valves
We must doubt ourselves. We must doubt our motivations. The Bible calls us to obey radical demands. Among them are these:
"Do not resist an evil person. If somebody strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." (Matt.5:39)
"Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matt.5:44)
"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse." (Rom.12:44)
"Do not repay anyone evil for evil." (Rom.12:17)
But surely there must be an escape clause or release valve, right? Surely some people just have it coming, don't they? Surely we are not to be total doormats, or are we? Where is that handle I can pull that will relieve me of these burdensome duties? It must be there somewhere!
The disciples wondered the same thing: "Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother?" There they were, looking for the escape clause or release valve. The Lord told them in no uncertain terms that there is no such clause or valve, and they shouldn't be seeking it.
Now, as a systematic theologian I am aware of the rhetorical use of hyperbole- absolute statements that, upon further reflection, turn out to be not so absolute. But here is the purpose of such hyperbole:
If you are looking around for the escape clause or release valve, if you are desperately looking for the breaking point where you are relieved of the obligations, if you, like the disciples, are wondering when that final time has come.... then you are not there.
There are no escape clauses or release valves. So stop looking.