Judey immediately told her husband him that she had not written these interpretations about various details of his character. But they quickly figured out what happened. It seems there was another truck in the parking lot; same model, same color, same truck. Putting two and two together one could figure out that it was a case of mistaken auto identity and some other relationship had issues to work on. Still it’s, ya gotta’ think she/he wanted to do or say something to somebody.
Has anything like that really happened to you? What do you do when someone takes advantage to call you out, to accuse you of something, to write on your bumper? Or even more challenging what do you do when someone is in your face, is pushing your buttons is questioning your ideas, is becoming your adversary?
If you’re anything like me when someone calls me out I usually call back. When someone pushes my buttons, I usually go off. When someone questions me, I usually answer. When someone is becoming my adversary, I prepare myself to be a worthy one. None of us like to be taken advantage of, to be stepped on, to have lipstick written on our bumper and then to have to just purse our lips as it were and take it.
On Sunday our scripture for worship includes a saying of Jesus’, ‘if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also;’ In “The Message,” Matthew 6:38-39 sounds like this: ‘Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it.’
It’s a challenging scripture on many levels and there are no easy answers no matter how you spin it. And I think that is a part of Jesus’ teaching. Life is messy and the way of God is going to be challenging. The way of God will ask us to reexamine some deeply held beliefs that make a lot of sense for surviving much less striving in this world. On one hand not responding to violence at any level seems to most often encourage it. But on the other hand - Jesus’ assessment still rings true. Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? On one hand we hand we need those who spend their lives to keep us safe? But on the other hand even those folks wonder how safe we really are.
When Jesus says, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst, he is not asking us to be softies and wallflowers and parking lot pushovers. Jesus is challenging us to find different ways to respond when our buttons are pushed, to practice different priorities when someone is questioning you, to define even the most difficult relationships differently than our culture and sometimes our “own good,” might maintain.
What are some of the ways you have responded to situations like the mistaken auto identity above? Have you ever been able to see the hurt in someone’s anger and in that moment respond in a way other than with your own fury? Have you ever been able to listen to someone who disagrees with you and hear just enough truth in what they were saying to keep listening? Have you ever been in such a place that when someone attacked you emotionally you simply did not want to be that vicious in return?
We may not be able to solve the bigger problems of racial hatred, ethnic conflict, terrorism and war by answering these questions. But it’s a place to start. And if you ask me that is the place Jesus is asking us to start and trust that maybe if enough of us do… some other significant things will also begin to change.
Keep the Faith!