"But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt." - Luke 6: 27 - 29
I once heard a story about an "Easter Chicken." A cute little chick was given to a child on Easter. The chick had been dyed some bright color like pink or yellow.
After Easter, when the chick's novelty had worn off, it was tossed into the chicken coop with the rest of the birds. The bigger chickens pecked away mercilessly at the odd, little bird. He didn't even have the good sense to defend himself.
But after a week or two had passed, the Easter Chicken had grown out its feathers to the point that it was beginning to look like the others. And it had begun to join the fray in the coop, giving as good as it got. Soon it was indistinguishable from the rest.
The guy telling the story said the Easter Chicken was like the church. "How so?" I asked. "Well, we started out different but it wasn't long before we were acting just like everyone else —like that Easter chicken."
Whatever else you may think about the words of Jesus above, it's pretty clear that they are seriously at odds with the way the world works. They remind us just how subversive of the world Christianity is.
Most of the time the church, and we who call ourselves "Christian," are a lot like the Easter Chicken. Our color fades and we play by the same rules as everyone else. It's hard to tell any real difference.
But the world needs Christians to be different, to not be just the same as everyone else. A good start on that path may be to simply listen to Jesus' strange words and to let them stand. Resist the impulse to explain them away. Let them haunt you and maybe even change you.
Save us, good Lord, from fitting in so damn well. Amen.
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. He is the author of many books, including What’s Theology Got to Do With It: Convictions, Vitality and the Church. You can read Tony's "Weekly Meditation" and "What's Tony Thinking?" at his website, www.anthonybrobinson.com.