It’s easy to contend that Jesus was just holding up ideals when he gives these instructions on the Sermon on the Mount. Seriously, Jesus? I’m really not supposed to strike back when someone threatens me?
But some people have actually practiced these commandments, sometimes with amazing outcomes. They show us it really can be done.
Do you remember reading about Antoinette Tuff, the school bookkeeper who talked a school shooter down in Atlanta in 2013? Instead of returning threat for threat, she did not let his actions dictate hers. Despite the intense fear that Tuff says she felt, she spoke to the shooter as a child of God: “It’s going to be all right, sweetie…. We all go through something in life.” To assure him he was not alone, she told him her own story of being tempted by suicide when her husband of 33 years had left her for another woman six months before. She told him that things could get better, and they could all come out of this alive. And they did. In time, Antoinette negotiated his full surrender.
Antoinette Tuff is clear that God had prepared her for that day. She remembered her pastor’s sermon series on anchoring that taught her how to console those who are grieving. She saw the young man as a person in pain. Inwardly, she was praying throughout the whole crisis that Jesus would guide her in what to say and do.
Her story provides such a vivid reminder that our prayers and reflections, our reading of Scripture, singing hymns, and listening to sermons are all about matters of life and death. May we follow in the Way that leads to Life—in every situation.
When have you struggled to do what Jesus teaches in this passage? When has praying through a crisis given you strength to practice what Jesus preaches here?
God, when the struggle is real and we find ourselves not knowing how to respond, help us know your way that leads to life. Amen.