It seems to me that one of the hardest concepts of Christianity to grasp is how we are to handle injustice in our lives. Life is full of injustices. We will be betrayed. We will be lied to and/or lied about. Sometimes these disputes end up being misunderstandings and misconceptions. In the every growing world of social media, it seems to just intensify. Written comments can so easily be misinterpreted, especially when they are typed out in haste or with emotion. Without the benefit of vocal tone or eye-contact, we often will take something in offense when it wasn’t intended to be so.
How sensitive are we? How easily are we “offended”? What is our response when someone despises us openly? These are the events that truly test our Christianity. Our little disputes can define us more than we realize. How many times do we see posts on Facebook or Twitter that say things like:
For all you out there that like to stab people in the back: I WILL NEVER FORGET! You’ll get yours someday!
You think you’ve won, but I know where you live and this isn’t over yet. You know who you are!
It seems that every few days, I see at least one of these type of posts. These type of posts are usually followed up by a slew of friends commenting things like, “You tell them!” or “You don’t have to take that!”. These sentiments usually support the rant against the injustice. Although a lot of these offenses end up being misunderstandings and miscommunication, let’s assume for the sake of this discussion that all of the injustices in your life are actually legitimate injustices. How are you supposed to handle those? With bitter anger? With malice? Are we just to suffer in silence?
Jesus was very specific about dealing with injustices. We all know the verses, but rarely to we REALLY put them into practice. Almost everyone knows the passage about “turning the other cheek” (Luke 6:27-31), but how many of us do this? At best we “ignore them and walk away”, which can be commendable compared to lashing back at them. But “turning the other cheek” does not mean to ignore the injustice, it means to accept it openly and actually invite more of it if needs be. Let’s look at that passage for a moment.
But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the [one] cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not [to take thy] coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask [them] not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
1) Do good to them that hate you. – It doesn’t say to ignore them that hate you. You are to go out of your way to do good for them.
2) Bless them that curse you. – Someone says you’re ugly, you compliment them. Someone tells lies about you, you tells good things about them.
3) Pray for them which despitefully use you. – You are betrayed, pray that the betrayer will prosper from it. (that is the implication of this passage, not that you pray them out of the behavior).
4) Turn the other cheek. – Someone hurts you. You give them the opportunity to do it again.
5) Give to every man that asketh of thee. – Pretty simple. Their intentions or ability to repay are irrelevant.
6) Of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again. – Someone steals from you. Do not try to get it back.
7) Do ye also to them likewise. – This is often called the Golden Rule. It simply means always put yourself in the shoes of others and think about how you would like to be treated.
It seems, we want to wear the moniker of Christian, but don’t like to do this kind of stuff. After all it is against human nature. Well, do we ever stop to think, maybe that’s why Jesus said the gate was narrow and only a few would find it? When we try to point out these things to our brothers and sisters when we see them retailiate against injustice we usually get, “Well, it’s easy for you to say! I’m the one that got betrayed!”. Well, Jesus doesn’t ask you to do anything that He didn’t do Himself.
And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.
– Matthew 27:29-31
What do you think Jesus thought of these people? “They’ll get theirs!”… right? He had the ability to come down from that cross and rain fire down upon the whole lot of em. But instead he did this:
Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
– Luke 23:34
I don’t think any of our piddly complaints against our neighbors even come close to the injustice of Jesus’ crucifixion, yet we still can’t handle these people with love. In fact, not only do we mishandle those who betray us, we do our own share of betrayal all of the time. We betray Jesus at the turn of a dime, don’t we? Every time we sin we add another stack of pain on His back. Yet He forgives. We run from Him and embrace every carnality the world can offer us. Yet He forgives. Time and time again, He forgives. You would think a pile of forgiveness like that might spill over us onto those who offend us. But no, we’d rather cry, “It’s not fair!” to the world and seek justice upon the offender.
I don’t want justice.
If I were to get justice, I’d be found guilty and be severely punished for my betrayals. In fact, what I deserve is hellfire and plenty of it. What I deserve is to roast over a hot flame for all eternity. That’s justice.
No… I most definitely do not want justice.
I want mercy. I beg for mercy. Thank the almighty God above that He is merciful and full of grace. But, if I expect to receive mercy, I better be willing to give it.
For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
– James 2:13
Hear that? Mercy rejoices against judgment! Which means I can too. Praise God!