….. DEFERRAL OR DEFENSE??? – Jesus said, if a man hits you on the cheek; turn the other cheek to him also. Have you ever really done that? I have….. It’s no fun. It didn’t injure me permanently but it sure hurt my ego, to walk away; when I knew what I could do to the offender…………….. But Jesus wants us to be more concerned about His will, about the welfare of others and yes, even concerned about our enemies; than ourselves. (I’m not good at that one at all). So, I say to Jesus. “These are Tough marching orders, Lord.” Yet, God means what He says.
….. So if I am to be a follower of Christ; I have to listen and obey……………………….
Many of you know, I teach Shotokan karate. As a Quaker, I am supposed to have a “peace testimony.” Yet, being A Quaker Preacher, who is also a karate teacher makes me indeed a strange bird huh??? Perhaps, but I know I am really “rough around the edges.”
….. Still, I do have a peace testimony………. My peace testimony is that I have never started a physical conflict in adulthood. I have come to the defense of others, quite a few times with God’s help; but I have never engaged in a conflict of my own (outside of the ring & the gym, where it is ok to fight).
….. Could there come an occasion, when I should fight to defend myself, outside of training? In a single word; Yes! ……………. But because of 25+ years of extensive training; I am normally in very little danger, even if someone strikes me first.
….. I know in most cases that my life is not threatened and I can handle the attacker….. So, karate becomes like owning a gun. You know you will hurt someone badly, if you use it……….. So if you are trained well and have a conscience; you can not use it, unless in true circumstances of self-preservation.
….. So regarding my Shotokan; It is wrong for me to use it, unless I am in real, life threatening danger. Usually, when someone offends; it is only my pride in danger of suffering. At that point, if I am listening to Jesus and my conscience, I must walk away from the attacker. In fact, Jesus said these attacks would come and that they are really, a blessing. “Blessed are you when me persecute you falsely for my name’s sake…. Great is your reward.” ……………Yucch. That’s like good medicine. I may need it but I don’t always like it.”
….. So, Jesus’s words to turn the other cheek are difficult…. Yet it is true in most instances, that the altercations of most physical conflicts could be diffused: If one would swallow their pride and simply walk away from the offender, without retaliation; the conflict is ended. This is what Jesus was referring to. If your pride and ego is wounded and you are NOT in imminent danger, the right thing to do: is to turn the other cheek and walk away, without retaliation.
….. But my dad always taught me to NEVER walk away and to always fight back. And my father was right also. Because it is wrong not to stand up for yourself. He taught me to never be bullied. So I have this inner conflict to fight or not to fight. But still the words in the Bible help here as well. “Love does not take into an account a wrong suffered.” Most times, if we will not respond to provocation; it is possible to walk away from it, without danger of harm.
….. Yes, I said most times….. I know there are times that truth and love must indeed fight. In these times, I think of my father’s instructions and roll up my sleeves. Best thing for the attacker to do then is watch out, the fight’s on; I’m coming with speed, strength, power & skill……………..
….. Which brings me to the other side of the coin. I remember when I was a preacher in Tennessee. I taught karate lessons in the basement of the parsonage. So when there was a story in the paper of a pastor, who was attacked & nearly killed when someone broke in a local church. One of the precious ladies (now deceased) in my church spoke up and said: “I wish they had broken in our church and tried that with our preacher.” I have always chuckled about this. Yet, I think the point is clear. Fighting strength can be very good. So, Be strong if you can. Train yourself well. Use that strength to help others, not to hurt them. It is then, that the skill to fight becomes God’s tool.
….. I have noticed, The older I get; the shorter my temper becomes. And I know me. I like to fight. This is a dangerous combination. So, I really have to give myself a good talking to these days. I get to say “I apologize” a lot. Also, it is necessary to literally pray on my knees, for people who offend me, on a daily basis. ……………. I must keep peace and serenity in my heart, as a safeguard to make sure, I am doing the will of God & being a blessing to my fellow-man.
….. It is clear that God wants me to Use my strength to defend other people BUT NOT TO DEFEND MY OWN EGO or false pride. Therefore, I am most often called to defer from engaging an opponent. Rarely, I am called to defend against one or one(s) that do attack with the real ability to harm. Wisdom for me is knowing which one God really wants me to do. Courage is being willing to do it His way (not my own). There is then a deep knowing of what is right in most situations.
….. God makes it clear to me as His agent, whether I am to defer or defend. This is an important lesson for me. Could be an important lesson for some of you, as well.