Did you hear about the four young boys who were wild with energy, especially when they went to church? One Sunday when the pastor preached on "turning the other cheek," he got the boys' undivided attention. The pastor stressed that no matter what others do to us, we should never try to "get even." That afternoon the youngest boy came into the house crying. Between sobs he told his mother he had kicked one of his brothers, who had kicked him in return. The mother said, "I'm sorry you're hurt, but you shouldn't go around kicking people." The tearful child responded, "But the preacher said he isn't supposed to kick me back." (As told by Jane Vajnar, "Lite Fare," Christian Reader.)
A story like that makes us smile, in part because we can picture that happening to children. However, if we think about it in terms of adults, or even groups of people, or whole nations -- the tendency to "get even" and hit back even harder is still very tempting. But can we ever make it all "even" and balance out? Or, do we just keep kicking back and forth until someone gets really hurt?
I am pretty sure Jesus was talking about our everyday encounters in life when we have to turn the other cheek. But, I also think he was contemplating the same kinds of encounters between adults, groups of people, and even nations. Do I think it is much more complex when it comes to nations responding to being "kicked?" Yes, of course. But, I also believe we need to consider what Jesus would do - even when it comes to nations. Today, I want to ask you to pray for all the leaders in our world -- that they would have the wisdom and courage to respond like Jesus.
Prayer for Today
Gracious God, none of us likes being "kicked" in life. Most of the time we want to kick back even harder. We know that sometimes we need to stop the abuser or the oppressor and protect the weak. We also know that other times we just want revenge. Give us the ability to discern what is your will and how we should respond to the challenges of life. Give us the courage to do the right thing, even if it is hard. We pray this in the strong name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.