Scholarly research on human behavior illuminates the redeeming effect of blessing those who persecute you (Luke 6:28 and Romans 12:14), turning the other cheek (Luke 6:29), and doing for others as you would have them do for you (Luke 6:31).
I was faced with this evidence while listening this week to what I endearingly call “egg head radio” (e. g. National Public Radio, the BBC News Hour, etc. . .). A program called “Invisibilia,” (which is Latin for “invisible things”) grabbed my attention with a segment about a group of friends that “flipped the script” when they were confronted with an armed robber. Please click here for the July 15, 2016 podcast, and note that the first segment is approximately 10 minutes; while the whole program is an hour in length.
“Non-complementary behavior” is the scholarly term for “flipping the script” in our interactions with others. In the positive sense, this is what we are commanded to do by Jesus as His disciples; and this is one of the earliest Christian behaviors, as we see in Paul’s letter to the church in Rome. A positive outcome each time we act in this manner is not assured. The peaceful protests of the Civil Rights movement in our country in the 1960s were frequently met with hostility and violence; and during the persecutions of the church in its early days, script flipping was, in today’s parlance, “flipping nuts.”
Personally, all to often I do it the world’s way: I am nice to those who are nice to me; and I get brittle when I think someone is being rude, unreasonable, hateful, or mean to me. The disciple of Jesus is called to another way (which, as it happens, it exactly what the earliest disciples were called: “People of the way”). The Invisibila segment reminded me of the invisible world of which I am a citizen — the Kingdom of Heaven — where there is love for one’s enemies, blessing for those who hurt us, surrendering of one’s rights in faithful obedience, and adherence to the Golden Rule.
Oswald Chambers wrote in one of his talks published posthumously in “My Utmost for His Highest,” that only those with the nature of Jesus within them actually can live-up to the Sermon on the Mount without becoming frustrated at its terms. On the other hand, if God’s nature is within us, through the power of the Holy Spirit we become the Sermon on the Mount in our interactions with others. We may not win each battle. Not every evil person will cave when confronted with good. Not every grace extended will be rewarded in kind. Yet, God’s word is true: Good does conquer evil!
In our daily interactions with others, what script are we following?