Sunday, July 17, 2016

SOLACE FOR MY SOUL IS COMING TO THE SANDBOX: SCS No. 91


Sunday, July 17, 2016, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 91


PRAYER for Today:
Heavenly Father,
We know we are all broken and in need of your grace. Only You are able to heal the hearts and souls of all of us who are full of sin and bring light to the darkness in our lives. Help us Father to accept your freely given gift of grace that we might be reconciled to You. It is in Your Resurrected Living Son’s name we pray.
Amen.

SCRIPTURE LESSON for Today:  
Matthew 5:39 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
39 But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

This is one of the most difficult sayings of Jesus.  Every Bible scholar seems to have a different interpretation of it.   I can’t say I know the correct one, but I do know how it changed some people’s way of life. 

One well known example I will point out is Mahatma Gandhi. He broke with organized Christianity over how he was treated by the church in South Africa, but still left his legal practice in Johannesburg to start the Indian Red Cross during the Boer War before going on to India to lead the Independence Movement there.  The above words of Jesus are credited as the seeds of his nonviolent theories.

Jesus probably did not have a political movement in mind when He spoke the words.  Jesus was really not talking about nonviolence here. He was talking about not letting an evil person pull you into their world of insults and filth.  He was not talking about someone punching you, but a slap to the face as an insult.  Jesus is saying don’t fight with evil people or you are becoming just like them.

If we could learn to follow these words, the result would be a more peaceful community in which to live.  A more peaceful country.  A more peaceful world.  An evil person can’t insult or fight if you refuse to participate.

Maybe the most important benefit a person will receive by following the directions given in this verse is an inner peace.  I was in a discussion with a person the other day about how many books have been written and classes and seminars on how to become happy.  My response was to ask, “Wonder what they mean by that word?”

For some of us who have spent most of our lives trying to figure out how to make it through the day and to come up with a reason to stay until the morn, happiness is an elusive goal we seldom think about.  I guess it is all where you are at on the spectrum from darkness to light.  However, it dawned on me when I read this verse that I might find some solace for my soul if I just stopped playing in the sandbox when someone wanted to throw things at me.  If I stopped throwing them back, sooner or later they would have nothing left in the sandbox to throw at me.

Oh yes, I am still in the sandbox.  The old saying that children are resilient is just a lie to make grownups feel better when kids are abused.  Kids may learn to cope, but look around you at the adults and tell me honestly if you believe children are resilient?  Look the word up.  Resilient means returning to the original form.  What a joke!  I am still in the sandbox, but I am going to stop throwing back what is thrown at me.  Solace for my soul is coming to the sandbox.

© Ed Cooper, July 17, 2016, Stoney Creek, TN, Appalachia

(Ed Cooper is an ordained minister and mental health advocate. He lives with his wife Patty in the mountains of East Tennessee.)

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