Humiliation, hurt, and a slap

I don’t normally follow the Oscars. I couldn’t tell you who won any of the awards in recent years. But I will remember one thing from this year’s Oscars: the slap. One man humiliating a lady in front of lots of people and her husband’s violent reaction.

To be honest, there’s not much good about this incident. A comedian makes an insensitive joke at someone else’s expense, profiting from rather than sympathising with that lady’s medical condition. Commendably, a husband wants to defend his wife, but does so wrongly through violence. Then there’s the inevitably reaction, all of which overshadows the celebration of people’s talents and achievements.

Of course, it’s easy for us to cast our judgements from the comfort of our devices. That is, until we remember our own flaws. Who hasn’t made a careless joke at someone else’s expense? Who hasn’t reacted angrily when humiliated? What’s that saying, “Let any who has not sinned cast the first stone”?

But here’s something worth thinking about: how do you react when your pride is hurt? A stranger pushes into a queue in front of you. Or that person at work undermines your character and competence to your colleagues. Maybe it’s a friend who openly questions your motives. Maybe it’s your spouse who says something hurtful to you and you can’t let it go by. Your self-image is threatened, and when given a choice between flight or fight, you fight.

Jesus took the blow for us so that we could be forgiven.

In those moments, it’s easy to forget Jesus’ words that we’ve been reminded of recently, “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also… love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:39, 44-45). It’s easier to respond to hurt with hurt, to slander with slander, to slap when slapped.

We need to hear the Apostle Peter’s encouragement to loving restraint, “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’ When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:21-23).

Jesus took the blow for us so that we could be forgiven. When provoked, hurt, or humiliated, he shows us a better way to respond.

Vicar

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