Following the way as Jesus has shown us is definitely not an “idealistic gas” – a term borrowed from C.S. Lewis’ book, Mere Christianity. The way of the cross: turning the right cheek, walking the second-mile and loving your enemies – though may sound as ideal for others, but for any serious disciples, is as real as it can get. Getting slapped twice will be twice as painful. Walking two mile will make your feet hurt more. And, loving your enemies doesn’t mean they will not hurt you back.
Growing up in a church like ours, I’ve been keenly aware of the personal conflicts which exist between church members. I have heard a lot of stories of confrontations and fights which affected the entire body of Christ. I’ve witnessed real lives entralled with real conflicts which resulted to real pain and hurts. I’ve lived with so much division in our church that I accepted the fact that these situations are unavoidable, therefore, part of being in the real world.
But learning the way of Christ, I realized that most of these conflicts could have been easily avoided, if someone who is involved would take on the path of the cross. You see, I learned that it’s embedded into human nature to fight back when afflicted with pain. Every relationship is being strained by this sub-human way of life. Families, friendships, society, government and the church are all breathe the same air of its deceit. Wars, oppression and slavery are the result of this falleness. But Jesus, when confronted with the same dilema – to fight against the oppression of the Roman Empire, showed us the way of suffering under the Roman cross. He showed us the way to end conflict is the way of the cross.
Some Christians are having a hard time hearing this one. The person whom they address as Savior and King would choose the path of “not fighting back”. For some, it is a sign of weakness, of helplessness. And besides, are not to protect ourselves from the harm others impose on us? Is it just fair to do so? I struggled with these same questions because back in High school, I used to get bullied because of my frail-built body. I never really had the guts to fight back whenever I’m being pushed around. I was not confident that I will be able to hurt someone back. Growing up, I’ve often associated not fight back as cowardice. I don’t fight back because I’m a weakling. I’m not proud of it but I used to console myself by equating this with how Jesus endured the sufferings on Calvary. I was wrong. The way of the cross is not about “not fighting back” but “actively loving in”. “Cowardice” means waking away where there is conflict and avoiding it whenever possible. But the way of the cross means standing your ground where there is conflict and enduring it whenever possible. This I now believe, what “Courage” means. This is what is means to truly love your enemies.