By Kenneth Justice
~ Yesterday morning I was sitting at coffee with one of my good friends and after he said goodbye and walked away the stranger sitting next to me suddenly snarled, “Is that your friend?”
The tone of the dude’s voice conveyed that he wasn’t someone I felt like talking with and although I ignored his question, the guy continued, “Your friend is a f***ing ass! You must be a moron if you hang out with people like him”.
I smiled at the guy, politely put away my laptop and walked away…..yet everything in me wanted to go on the attack and level into the guy by giving him a piece of my mind. Whatever kind of person would so randomly start talking to me like that probably ‘deserves’ me to cuss them out, but I doubt that me yelling at the guy would have accomplished anything useful.
I’ve never been very good at turning the other cheek when faced with nasty people. Biting my tongue and letting people ‘get away’ with shit isn’t something that comes natural to me at all. I’m not sure why. It’s not like I’m the essence of perfection; I have my fair share of character flaws and I often wonder why I get so upset with other people being rude and nasty when I myself am so far from perfect.
Turn the other cheek….
When I was younger I would often hear the example Jesus gave of hypocrites; people who are so quick to point out the speck in the eyes of others yet ignore the log protruding from their own. Yet it is a fine line between being a hypocrite and standing up for yourself….isn’t it? Wouldn’t I have had the right to stand up for my friend at coffee and ‘told off’ that stranger who was clearly being rude and obnoxious? But what does having the ‘right’ really mean? Do we always have the ‘right’ to respond to people when they are rude, obnoxious, and downright nasty to us? Should we always stand up for ourselves when people ‘wrong’ us?
I’ve also struggled quite a bit with people who gossip and slander; it really bothers me. I’m now in my thirties and it amazes me to no end the way in which people related to me spend so much time talking shit about me behind my back. Perhaps I’ve been naïve to think that once I got older people would suddenly begin acting nicer and more polite……because sadly the opposite is the case. I am a really busy person so I can’t understand for the life of me why anyone would waste time gossiping about me behind my back; I barely have the free time to drink my coffee some mornings so to waste it being a gossip is something I can’t really relate to at all.
Turn the other cheek……
On September 11, 2001 the World Trade Center was attacked by a handful of men who hijacked airplanes and flew them into the building with the clear intent of blowing the building up. A lot of people died on 9/11 and even worse; following the attack on New York the men and women of the United States Congress voted nearly unanimously to begin a ‘war on terror’ which all these years later is still being waged and which has resulted in the deaths untold thousands of men, women, and children.
What does it all mean? I can still remember where I was when I learned about the attack on the Twin Towers, it was an awful tragedy. Yet, after all these years and all the money and lives that have been spent……what have we really accomplished?
Is the United States safer? Are countries across Europe and Asia who have suffered from train bombings and other various attacks against humanity any safer?
I’m concerned that in the midst of all the warfare, all the arguing, all the politics and all the gossip and slander…..that something is being missed. Why are Western countries still so disconnected from other countries such as those in the Middle East? Why is there so little positive dialogue that is occurring? Why is there so little love surrounding this issue? Why do tempers flare so quickly over this subject?
Turn the other cheek…..
I often wonder what kind of perspective Jesus would have on life in the Western World; would he be proud of the decisions that Great Britain and the United States have made in regard to the War on Terror? Would he be proud of the way our countries have handled international relations?
What would Jesus do about relatives who gossip about him? What would he say to those who slander him? Would he be patient and kind or would he lash out at them and call them a ‘brood of vipers’?
Turning the other cheek is something I don’t entirely understand. When should we turn the other cheek and when do we need to stand up and defend ourselves? When she would be quick to listen and when do we need to be quick to protect ourselves from those who seek to destroy us?
I’ve been pretty open about my Evangelical Christian heritage and the mark it left upon my life. All these years later I still struggle with the hypocrisy and nastiness that often seems to effortlessly flow from my fellow ‘Christians’. For many years I grappled with frustration; how could a God of love allow those who claim to be followers, to be so downright mean and nasty? It often made me wonder if God was really there or if God was simply silent.
All these years later I still come face-to-face with Christians who don’t treat me very well. Some of them are people whom I simply can’t get out of my life and I often ask myself whether I’m supposed to stand up to them and tell them how it is, or whether I’m simply supposed to turn the other cheek.
At thirty six years old it is strange to me that I’m still trying to figure these things out. I thought that by now I’d have all the answers; yet I’m beginning to realize that the older I get the more questions I seem to have as opposed to answers.
Turning the other cheek seems really hard. I’m reminded of what Jesus said,
“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”
Holy cow, doesn’t that seem a tall order? I still gotta figure all this out. For now I’m just going to finish my coffee this morning,
Categories: Culture & Society