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The Third Way, Part 2

June 24, 2010

(Back-story was yesterday.)

Three gospels and pages of notes later, I started referring to my little project as “the third way.”

Here’s what I mean: Jesus actually came up against this idea of right vs. wrong a lot, and many times he just ignored the whole paradox and came up with a different answer: a third way.

So often we look at things in black and white and we don’t even realize it. Greed and pride have done this to us. Every fight, every court case, and every sporting event has a winner. Every car accident, every divorce, and every organizational failure has a scapegoat. Every question has an answer, and True/False questions are easiest to grade. Life – and especially religion – are easier when we know what is right and what is wrong.

But Jesus left a lot of those boxes blank and wrote in answers where society had not provided an Other line.

He started it on the Mount.

Matthew 5:11-12 addresses persecution. When people address something like persecution, they provide two possible answers: Fight or Flight. Jesus writes in, “Rejoice.”

Matthew 5:39 is similar, and more general. Q: Abuse. A: Fight or Flight. Jesus writes in, “Turn the other cheek.”

Verse 40 discusses lawsuits. Fight or Settle? Jesus writes in, “Give more than what he asks for.”

The next verse talks about someone “compelling” you to do something with or for him. The word is “conscript,” which is also translated “force.” It’s not about a friend asking you to take a road trip with him; it’s about someone guilting you into doing a big favor for him. A: Do or Don’t. Jesus writes in, “Do more than he asks.”

Is it wrong – is it sin – to fight an unjust lawsuit? To settle out of court? To defend yourself or a loved one from harm? To tell a manipulative person, “No”? To cry on someone’s shoulder if you’re persecuted?


And yet … Jesus writes in other answers. It’s probably safe to say they’re better answers.

They’re harder to do. They hurt. They’re not “fair.” But maybe part of this new life that Jesus asks us to live isn’t about right or wrong. Maybe it’s about Christ. The cross, after all, wasn’t fair.

More on this Third Way idea tomorrow.

One Comment leave one →
  1. jeffrey permalink
    June 27, 2010 9:37 am

    awesome. this really helps me look at things differently. and i dig that :)

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