But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, – Galatians 5:22
Day 26: Gentleness
Biblical instruction on resistance is usually understood to mean a Christian should respond passively to threats and violence by turning the other cheek. In the midst of severe Muslim-Christian conflict, a leading church bishop in Nigeria has repeatedly been quoted saying, “We have turned the other cheek so many times we have no more cheeks to turn!”
But Palestinian Christians involved in peace, reconciliation and non-violence movements, explain Jesus’ teaching about “turning the other cheek” differently. They say that He was instructing us in an offensive—not a defensive—act of peace.
Using a culturally relevant example of Jesus’ day, a person who slapped another on the cheek used the back of the right hand, an act of insult by a superior to an inferior. But by turning the “other” cheek, the victim is empowered, forcing the aggressor to either deliver a second blow with an aggressive open palm or fist, or resolve the conflict.
The Christ-like response of turning the other cheek transforms the violent exchange, as well as the roles of aggressor and victim, communicating that the victim views himself as an equal. This redefines the relationship and forces the oppressor into a choice: escalate the violence or respond with repentance and reconciliation.
Over the month of August, Open Doors ministry has a special mission they are encouraging all to partake in. “During the month of Ramadan, from August 1-30, 2011, Open Doors is calling on Christians in the West to pray for Christians living in Islamic dominated countries… praying specifically for God to fill and strengthen them with the ‘Fruit of the Spirit.’ This ‘fruit’ embodied in each believer; molds, shapes and transforms us – expressing the image of His Son. And through this image, shining through a believer, God draws people to salvation.”
I signed up for their daily prayer emails for this mission. Each day, they send an account of a Christian who is living in Islamic-dominated countries. I pray this will help us to remember to pray for those who are ministering to hearts in foreign countries with the gospel.
“Open Doors works in the world’s most oppressive countries, strengthening Christians to stand strong in the face of persecution and equipping them to shine Christ’s light in these dark places. Open Doors empowers persecuted Christians by supplying Bibles, training Christian leaders, developing Christian communities and ensuring prayer, presence and advocacy for these suffering believers.” (www.OpenDoorsUSA.org)