If you were hoping for a week without a significant challenge to the depth and scope of our faith, unfortunately you will not find it this week. We are told by Paul that it is when we think that we have the answers that God will remind us that we in fact do not. Jesus then tells us that we need to turn the other cheek and love our enemy. Wow!!! I don't know about you but every time I check my social media accounts to make sure I didn't miss anyone's birthday or to check out those amazing "TASTY" recipe videos I find myself overcome by posts and tweets that exude social and political statements that are filled with words that would lead me to believe that someone knows something that I don't and is often laced with sentiment that could be perceived with anger or even hatred towards those who might oppose that obvious wisdom. Maybe you can relate. This discourse has spilled into the daily workings of everyday life as we travel roads attempting to avoid or sometimes, maybe even looking for someone to disagree with.
Are we being given two separate but yet obligatory commands from Jesus? On one hand he is telling us to fight for justice, equality and peace, but yet, on the other hand he is asking us to understand that we are not the authors of all things wise and he tells us to turn the other cheek and love our enemies. Alright, now I really need some wisdom... how do we do that?
I heard a story once about the whole "Turn the other cheek" philosophy that I found to be incredibly profound. I was told that it was somewhat routine for Roman soldiers to slap the oppressed Israelites using the back of their hand. That was how you would hit someone who you saw as a slave, or someone who was less human than you were. When you hit someone with the palm of your hand, it was almost as if you were hitting an equal, someone who had the same status as you. So, when you turn the other cheek, it makes it impossible to hit someone with the back of your hand and therefore, if they struck you with their palm, they would be seen as striking their equal. Now, I have no idea how true or valid that story is, but I think it brings up an interesting point. Was Jesus making a political statement by telling his followers to turn the other cheek? Was he daring the Romans to view them as equals?
Sometimes I feel like I know the answer. Sometimes I feel like if people just did what I told them to do, everyone would be the better for it. And, as I reflect on those times, I realize that it is very easy for me to view myself as the better person, the smarter person, the wiser person, which in turns causes me to see the other as...you guessed it the lesser person. At the time, I do see myself as being arrogant, but, maybe I am. I'm not a big fan of arrogance and as a matter of fact it becomes very difficult to accept even the wisest advice from a person who comes across that way.
I guess that maybe the idea that Jesus and Paul is trying to get across is that our belief in our own wisdom and our unwillingness to accept that it may take a sacrifice or leap of faith to allow others to see us as equals, or us to see others as equals, makes it really difficult to accomplish anything. So, maybe those of us who seek justice, equality and peace need to recognize that our stance, our wisdom and most importantly, our message that needs to be heard will never be heard by those who need to hear it unless we intentionally and honestly look at the other as our equal. Maybe, instead of spewing anger and frustration at people when they figuratively hit us with the back of their hand, we should turn the other cheek and offer them the opportunity to view us as their equal, or, better yet, their brother or sister, created by the same God who places within us God's wisdom.
I'm still going to check my social media sites in the hope of finding the next fabulous Nacho recipe, but maybe when I do, I will find a little less "human wisdom" and a little more "God Wisdom". As a wise man once said, it is when we try a different way that we will usually find a different result. And I don't know about you, but in the world we live in today, a different result doesn't sound that bad.
Thanks for listening,
MUSIC FOR FEBRUARY 19TH