Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Setting the standard, instead of settling the score.

    It’s often been said that there’s no telling what tomorrow has in store for us. In spite of many people’s attempts to forecast the future, the future remains as mysterious a place as ever. The sobering thing about the future is that it brings change with it, and more times than not, that change comes quickly, and with little or no warning. When those changes affect our relationships with others, the results can be overwhelming. Stable relationships play a key role in helping us to develop properly, and cultivate emotional well being. Relationships however, can be fickle, and change from one day to the next. Hence, God in His wisdom offers us several lessons on what to do when stable relationships become unstable. This is an important lesson to learn, because when relationships become unstable people will get hurt.
    Unfortunately, none of us is exempt from having to pass through this painful reality, but let’s see what Jesus has to say about this valley and its shadows.


Matthew 5: 38 You have heard that it has been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That you resist not evil: but whosoever will smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue you at the law, and take away your coat, let him have your cloak also. And whosoever will compel you to go a mile, go with him two. Give to him that asks of you, and from him that would borrow form you turn not thou away. You have heard that it has been said, you will love your neighbor, and hate your enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love them which love you, what reward have you? do not even the publicans the same? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

    The ideas that Jesus is relaying in these versus, are well known to most of us, but its for this reason precisely that their impact eludes us. These concepts were not common practice in the days of Jesus, hence we can see why He begins His sermon with the phrases “you have heard it said”, and “I say unto you”. In short, He’s preparing His audience to have their everyday assumptions about life, and religion challenged.
    Jesus’ response is unlike anything that the people of his day were accustomed to, and in many ways, they’re unlike anything that many of us are accustomed to.

First of all, Jesus tells us to move beyond the “eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth concept”. Simply put, forget about revenge. On the other hand, Jesus allows us to identify what’s happening to us, as an act of evil. Losing a fight, doesn’t mean losing our sense judgement. Nowhere in these versus does Jesus deny that something wrong or unfair is taking place. What Jesus is saying however, is that other people’s actions should not set the standard for our reactions. 
    In a subtle, but yet aggressive tone, Jesus is teaching us how to overcome evil. Retaliation only fuels the fires of evil, but if we refuse to feed the fire, it has no choice but to die out. Evil feeds off evil, but starves to death in the face of goodness.

Romans 12:21 challenges us to apply this method of resolution when it says, “Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

It really does take two to tango, and if we refuse to dance, the music dies. We must resolve conflicts in such a way that troublesome spirits, and the people that harbor them, are defused from the onset.
    Jesus never claimed that His way of resolving things was the easiest way. Being a believer does not mean that our lives are void of conflict and pain. If this were the case, Jesus would have skipped the lessons on what to do when we’re mistreated. Its always been amusing to me, that Jesus taught on how to respond to getting slapped. Did Jesus teach on this issue because He knew that one day it would happen to all of us? God forbid that any of us would have to endure this physically, but there’s no question that all of us will have to endure this spiritually.
    The fact is, that there’s a Christian response to everything in life, even getting slapped. Whether or not we see it as the only way of responding to life’s problems is another question.

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