Reflection for Monday 13th June 2022

The Rev’d Roger Elks

Click here for the words of the reflection

Hello. I wonder if you have fast reactions. Are you very good at getting back a retort when somebody says something or are you good at physically reacting? Our immediate reaction often reveals our inner nature. They reveal what we’re really like underneath. And of course, that sometimes can be a bit embarrassing. Jesus teaches about how Christians should react.

Matthew 5:38-42 New International Version

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[a] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

In Child development, human development, there is a stage when the part of the brain, the very primitive part of the brain, the amygdala, starts being taught by a developing part of the brain, the frontal cortex. So the amygdala is that fight and flight part of our brain that helps us importantly to protect ourselves against attack. But the frontal cortex controls the information that comes from the amygdala and our response. So it says, actually, no, that’s not something to be frightened of.

And we learn as we get older and we try and help our children to understand that the amygdala cannot rule our lives. Well, what is our response to threat? How does our frontal cortex help us to comprehend the information that we see with our eyes and ears when we are confronted with evil? What do we do when we are under physical attack? When we are on legal attack, when we are under abuse, when someone wants to borrow something from us or is begging from us. Well, Jesus teaches in each of these situations in Matthew five, what we should do, and that is to be generous. Often these are teachings which are incredibly challenging for us, and I’m not sure that Jesus is saying that every time that we’re facing these situations, we should always do these things. But certainly those of us who call ourselves Christians in whom the Holy Spirit dwells, and as the Holy Spirit develops in us, that image of God, the broken image that was broken by the fall and is now being restored by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, we are being changed to people whose immediate reactions are not always to fight back, not always to return evil for evil, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. We are people who show the image of God. We become more like Jesus as the Holy Spirit works in us.

And that means that at times we will not resist the evil person, we will turn the other cheek, we will allow ourselves to be abused, we will give to those who want to borrow, we will give to those who beg from us. And those will be reactions that come naturally; naturally, from a generous heart. Those to whom much has been given, much will be expected. That is true Christian development. That is the mind of Christ, and that is the challenge for today, that we allow the Holy Spirit to do that. And maybe, today, God will give us an opportunity to put those words into action.

May the mind of Christ, my Saviour,
live in me from day to day.
By his love and power controlling
all I do and say.

Almighty God and everlasting God. You have given us your servants, grace, by the confession of a true faith to acknowledge the glory of the Eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the unity. Keep us steadfast in this faith that we may ever more be defended from all adversities through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.