The power of the Gospel story is in its departure from the expected. God chooses to enter human history, not on the clouds of heaven, but in a stable. Rather than mounting a human throne, He allows himself to be mounted on a cross. While hanging there bearing the pain and insults, Jesus says, "Father, forgive them..." Talk about unexpected! I’m sure the soldiers were stunned! They had heard a lot of words uttered from crosses before, but they had never heard words of forgiveness.
We all know "the world’s scripts" that we are supposed to follow. You treat people decently who treat you decently. "Love your neighbor, hate your enemy." When someone hits you, you hit back. "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth." Never mind that the world’s wisdom ends in destruction. As Gandhi pointed out, taking an eye for an eye ultimately results in the whole world going blind.
It’s time for a different tactic, not in most of our manuals. Jesus laid out the new tactic: "Do not set yourself against the man who wrongs you. If someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn and offer him your left. If a man wants to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat as well. If a man in authority makes you go one mile, go with him two. Give when you are asked to give; and do not turn your back on a man who wants to borrow... Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors..."
Such actions are truly unexpected and surprising and rare. This seems strange in that our Lord suggested them 200 centuries ago. The truth is that most of us Christians are still following "the world’s script" that leads to destruction. Break free! Do the unexpected! There is power and healing there.
©1998 C. David Hess