Okay, I grew up in a crazy household. We had seven kids altogether, but far enough apart in age out that we never all lived there at once. We had little supervision and a lot of fighting. Whatever good we may have had, it was still a dysfunctional family.
My younger brother Matt was always kindhearted, creative and full of love. Kind of trampled through life, as our mother (when Matt was five), plus three other brothers, and our Dad, all died by the time Matt left home. It was a rough household.
And Matt and I fought. Like brother and sister, I guess, but probably more… and always verbal, never physical.
One day I mentioned to him that we hadn’t fought in a long time. He said, “Well, I decided I wasn’t going to fight with you anymore.”
I stared at him. “You what?”
He said, “I didn’t like fighting with you, and I decided not to fight anymore.” It took a moment to register.
Then I felt intensely ashamed. Ashamed that I had not seen the need to quit fighting but my younger brother had. Ashamed that I fought enough that someone else had to decide not to fight with me anymore. I was seriously taken aback.
I got the fighting honestly, I know – it was in the fabric of our home, and honestly, it was survival. It felt like, “hurt or be hurt.” But in that moment, I was deeply moved by my brother’s maturity… and ashamed of my own.
Matt illustrated what Jesus talked about. Jesus told an oppressed people not to fight with their oppressor. If the occupying army soldier makes an unreasonable request on you, to carry his gear for a mile (the maximum allowed by law), Jesus said carry it TWO miles. What??
Okay, that’s crazy talk. Why in the world should they? That’s not fair. The soldier doesn’t deserve it. The least you could do was walk as slowly and begrudgingly as possible (without getting a sword run through you); walk one mile and not an inch further. That’s the way to fix that. I may do it, but I’m not gonna like it.
Jesus invites us into something completely different.
Jesus offers us peace unlike any we’ve ever seen. He’s offering us something off the grid. And to be perfectly brutal here, if the oppressed man cannot embrace that requirement to joyfully carry heavy gear two miles even though it’s not fair, then his issue is with Jesus alone. Not the soldier. The soldier is just doing what the soldier is doing. The oppressed people were not going to change that, even though that’s what they expected Jesus to do. We like fairness, and by that I mean, we don’t want to be taken advantage of.
But Jesus isn’t offering fairness. He already told us what to do in a situation like that. He said, “Go with it… and I’ll give you peace like you can’t imagine.” You see how it works?
Who are our oppressors? Who are those who disagree with us? Who are those with whom we are fighting?
Maybe it’s time for us to make the choice to stop fighting. Christians, we’re the ones given the Holy Spirit to make this possible and give us a life-changing peace!
If he told us to be this way with our oppressors, how much more should we be this way with others we simply don’t agree with or don’t like?
Maybe it’s time to stop arguing and debating and fighting – about the “big” things and the little things – and be Christ-like… love.