Friday, February 18, 2011

Broken Inside - Mountainside Chats

I recently read a story about a social worker named Julio Diaz who was being mugged in New York City. As he turned over his wallet, the social worker invited his adolescent mugger to have dinner with him. The teen-aged mugger agreed and the two of them sat down to dinner at a local diner. 
As a society, it makes sense that we should be concerned with criminal behavior. It seems important for the social status quo that there be consequences to harmful behavior. Punishing this behavior also allows us to remove from society those who may be able to harm us, or remove their ability to exert harm.
However, I think Julio Diaz understands something that the rest of us need to learn. Since the general status quo of society is not harming one another, a person who is intent on doing so may have some type of compelling brokenness in their life. 
Therefore, when Jesus tells his followers to “turn the other cheek” in Matthew 5:38-42, it seems to me that he was not talking about some mysterious virtue in being victimized. I think Jesus was actually talking about how Christians can combat the source of evil by addressing the underlying brokenness with love. Instead of creating more broken relationships and lives through punishment, we can serve reconciliation through prayer and kindness.
To me, this idea sounds as revolutionary today as it probably did when Jesus first uttered the words. At least someone thought Julio Diaz’s actions were abnormal enough  to put him in the national news spotlight. Even if we are not currently being victimized, it seems to me that Christians can be actively using kindness to reconcile the brokenness in the lives of people around us.

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