Read Donald B. Kraybill's The Upside Down Kingdom.
“If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.” Luke 6:29
It’s the playoffs, and during them hockey players hold to the unspoken rule that giving hard hits is fine, but one ought to avoid outright fights. This agreement makes for fast-skating, hard-hitting hockey without the tough-man antics of dropping the gloves for a mid-ice brawl. Most would say it makes better hockey.
I know it might be a stretch, but what if we banned fighting in hockey during the regular season? Would we get better hockey? Probably so. Or what if we dropped fighting from politics and international relations and neighborhood issues. Or bring it closer to home. What if we quit fighting at our workplace and home space, in our relating to colleagues, friends, and family?
Jesus said as much. In Luke he says if someone picks a fight with us, we shouldn’t retaliate. “Turn the other cheek” the saying goes, and even more. “If he takes your coat, give him your shirt too.”
In The Upside Down Kingdom, Donald Kraybill writes, ”A blow on the right cheek had special significance in Jewish culture. It symbolized ultimate contempt. Its punishment was a fine equivalent to a year’s wages. In other words, Jesus forbids his disciples to retaliate even in the face of the most abusive insult.” (p. 196)
I am all for “fighting the good fight” if it means living the faith to the fullest, but I am not going to take that phrase literally. By turning the other cheek I hope to squelch violence and help the offender realize their wrong.
God, it’s so easy to fight back in conflict situations. Help me see that you called us to love everyone, even our enemies. May I seek peaceful ways to reconcile differences, and in doing so fight faithfully for what is right and good. Amen.
The next time you are in a conflict situation, look for ways to defuse the situation through apology, listening, or walking away