Friday, August 22, 2008

Fame and shame

What’s the deal with turning the other cheek? By telling his followers not to resist an evil person (Matt. 5:39), is Jesus saying we should all be pacifists? Maybe. But notice he’s talking about face-slaps, not sword-thrusts; one kills you, the other mainly just humiliates you. Of course, in Jesus’ day, humiliation could be worse than death. Honor was worth more than money, and shame was just as powerful the other way.

In short, Jesus says when someone humiliates you, invite him to do it some more: “You trying to make me look weak? Come on, humiliate me again!” Of course, welcoming humiliation is almost as hard today as it was in Jesus’ time. After all, why would anybody just stand there and take being humiliated? It’s totally upside-down to common sense.

Exactly. But that’s what happens when the Kingdom of God slams into the powers and values of the world around us. The rules are 180-degrees opposite each other, and neither set makes sense from the other side. But deciding which set of rules to follow really comes down to a very simple decision: who are you trying to impress—everybody else, or God?

(c) Copyright 2008, A. Milton Stanley