My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 03-29-2021

After the riot in Washington D.C., there were concerns from different individuals and organizations.  Some concern has been expressed in articles and from members of different churches.  It is easy to agree with the non-violent positions taken.  After all, Jesus told us to turn the other cheek and to love those who hate us.  It is always easy to give advice, even the biblical kind.  What is difficult in doing the “cheek” turning is when it goes beyond insults and becomes violence against one’s spouse, children, or grandchildren.

We are living in a society which stands upon the shoulders of people who lived before us and “built” this nation.  Like us, they lacked perfection.  Expansion meant resettling the “undesirables” to the west, despite their “tears.”  Further expansion westward meant forcing those same individuals to dwell on smaller plots of land and live off government handouts.  Since they were not Christians, their children were forced to receive that faith to civilize them.  Since our forefathers knew what was best, those children were given the gift of salvation whether they wanted it or not.  Such places as Little Big Horn were where those “ungrateful” people voiced their disapproval.  Our forefathers had more guns and forced a peace settlement.  Chinese and Japanese laborers did receive better conditions, but not much.  Progress is often thought necessary despite the condition some people are forced to accept.  Of course, no one wants to be in that group that was forced to comply.

Our grandfathers went to Europe to fight the Kaiser in 1917-18.  53,402 of our soldiers never came home.  It was touted as a war to end all wars.  Some churches during WW I ostracized members who put on the uniform.  This was true, especially of preachers who joined or were drafted.  However, the thirties saw Japanese expansion which clashed with US interest and Pearl Harbor shocked us into dropping “the other cheek” philosophy.  Pearl Harbor made enlistment popular.  That decision led to 407,316 of our boys losing their lives.  671,846 were wounded.  72,000 were missing in action.  Some from each of those statistics were Christians.  Some veterans suffered nightmares until the day they died because they viewed their military service being out of harmony with Jesus’ “cheek” statement.

If the US and Allies had turned the other cheek and opened our borders to Nazism and Japan’s Imperialism, things would be totally different today.  Christianity would be a back-alley faith engaged in secret meetings, hoping those gatherings would not be discovered.  Nations evangelized by former GI’s after the war would not have happened.  Millions who heard the gospel from 1945 to 2021 would not have been converted.   Our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren would have been educated in Third Reich and Japanese Imperialism.  The Bible would be on the burn list.  White and black believers would work and die side by side in forced labor camps.  Women would be abused and discarded when failing health made them no longer desirable.  Freedoms once cherished would be past history.   We would not be where we are today if it had not been for those men and women who fought and died to establish the freedom which we inherited.

Although Jesus spoke of turning the other cheek, he also asked how many swords the apostles possessed.   He was told two.  Peter owned one of them.  Jesus did not scold them nor order them to discard them.  Peter was wearing his at the Passover Feast and it was on his waist when he went with Jesus to the garden to pray.  He drew that sword to defend Jesus, but Jesus’ plans were more important than Peter’s protection.  Before that event, Jesus made a whip and drove the money changers out of the Temple Courtyards.  I doubt if any of those fleeing merchants claimed that Jesus was just showing them how to turn the other cheek.  Was Jesus contradicting his own teaching?  No, the context was different, and Jesus dealt with others within that context.

Sometimes an event may make it difficult for a Christian to know what the correct course is.  Sometimes the wrong decisions are made, but God’s grace is mightier than our mistakes.  Peter denied Jesus but the Lord did not hound him about it.  Mankind lacks perfection which usually leads to inconsistencies.  There are times when we need to turn the other cheek.  Then there are times when a sword leaves its scabbard.  The use of a turned cheek is better!  Putting one’s sword back in its sheath stops bloodshed.  May we all have the correct wisdom to select the better of the two courses.