A group of friends of mine have had a rather jarring near-schism. I say "near" because I have hope that there is yet some remedy which may be found to alleviate the wound, but I realize with bleakness that I sound fairly specious. Let us just say that it involved some money which is seemingly missing, and a particular person who is allegedly the source of the problem - members of the group have even gone so far as to file a police report; at least one arrest has been made.
While I have been a victim of many crimes I have only filed a police report twice, both times in college, one involving a stolen (and used) ATM card, and another involving a stolen backpack (which held all the library books I needed to finish a paper). In those cases, I did not suspect a culprit, and the filings were done at the behest of third parties (my bank, and my professor, respectively). In cases where I had suspicions about a specific individual I have refrained from taking legal action.
My question is this: Do we, as Christians, have an obligation to explore remedies other than police action for wrongs committed against us? (And of course, the sideline question lurks: Do we lack a right to seek a remedy?)
My answer has long been yes, but I recognize it's complicated. Paul says that all governments that exist do so because God has allowed them and exhorts Christians to obey the law, but he himself never quit preaching the Gospel even when it was prohibited (a choice which landed him in jail repeatedly). Ancient Israelites wanted a king to be their ruler instead of having God as their ruler so they got Saul and then David, but while God was ruler they still went to judges for justice. And Jesus, of course, said to turn the other cheek.
I've been in various positions of ministry where I've discovered that people under me have broken the law, and thankfully, I've never had a situation where I had an affirmative answer to the question of whether my reporting something could prevent future harm (for then, all bets are off). But as for myself, I have always valued compassion over justice, and have no desire for someone to be behind bars as repayment for something they did to me, and I don't want their money either. My world doesn't work that way. Vengeance is the Lord's.
And so regarding the current situation with my friends: It's just money. It's not even that much money. Couldn't you have passed a hat to see if you could scare up that amount in the name of compassion rather than filing a police report? Let me go get my checkbook.
Sadly, my incredulity smacks of the hypocritical. Jesse is of course still Mr. Amazing to me, and I am ridiculously enamored with him, but he works all the time, he only eats at home on weekends, and when he comes home from work he vegetates in front of the computer or television and doesn't remember to help out with any of the housework even when he's said that he's going to do so. We've had a bunch of blowouts about that, where I get frustrated because he doesn't follow through with things he said he'd do, or isn't home when he says he will be, and I feel overwhelmed and unappreciated.
But here's the kicker: They're just chores.