Turning The other Cheek


So many of us were born and brought up in an environment that defines love based on how fairly others respond to us. As long as the other party or people are at peace with you, you love them. Tooth for tooth and eye for eye is the law we are used to and have upheld for a long time. In so many communities, there are certain stories or reasons why they have nothing in common with the other community. Some even go as far as not mingling or marrying from certain communities because of an event or conflict that occurred between the two communities in the past.

These are some of the reasons many people justify the divisions across various societies and have upheld it tightly to the detriment of their peace and development. There are walls of different kinds across our communities, some are cultural, tribal, religious, economic and social walls which are breeding grounds for violence we are experiencing in the entire world today.

No community or society can be developed or healed with divisions or barriers, but these divisions are witnessed almost everywhere, and the result of it is the unorganized and undeveloped communities we see in most African nations.

Many believe that insurgence, mostly Boko Haram, came and progressed as a result of economic walls between the rich and the poor. Instead of building bridges, walls are built between the rich and the poor which makes our communities unbalanced. Unbalanced society is characterized by disagreement or crisis that gives birth to underdevelopment and poverty.

It is often said, “you cannot get a different result by doing the same thing over and over”. There is need for a shift in our attitudes so that we can experience a new dawn. Our divisions as well as old values have done enough to bring us down, we must now throw away our pride or value and embrace the kingdom of God and its values.

Christ’s kingdom and it values is the change we need. Christ forgave His enemies and brought healing to communities at war, unlike religious groups of His time. Jesus went through Samaria, discussed with a Samaritan woman, ate and slept in Samaria. This is something religious Jews never did. They saw divisions or building walls as the best remedy to hostility, but on the contrary, Jesus built a bridge instead of a wall. The Samaritan woman responded to Jesus with a wall. Unforgiveness was clearly spelt in her response to Jesus who simply asked for a cup of water; “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”

The response from the Samaritan woman rightly represents our societal values. We have locked many out of our worlds but expect peace. True peace comes through forgiveness. Jesus broke the wall and brought healing and salvation to the Samaritans. He introduced the kingdom of God to the Samaritans, a change that brought a new beginning in the history of the community.

The Pharisees or Sadducees could not see the possibility of the Jews and Samaritans eating together, ‘tooth for tooth and eye for eye’ was their eyeglass. Yes, Moses gave them the law, but it was not the perfect will of God. Jesus responded concerning the law of Moses, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so." (Matt 19:8) Jesus is the way, the perfect will of God and God declared “this is my beloved Son, hear him.” (Luke 9:35). Moses himself told the congregation in the Wilderness concerning Christ, he said “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him, you shall hear.” (Deut. 18:15)

Just like the Pharisees, many people do not cherish Jesus’ theology of peace. The pharisees were vigorously offended when they heard Jesus saying, “you have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. If someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matt 5:39) This is how many of us feel furious when anyone reminds us of Christ’s way of peace. We run back to the law of Moses, but the result is more war, pains and defeat.

We are called to follow Jesus and listen to Him; the law of Moses (eye for eye and tooth for tooth) could not heal but only kills or eliminates. It was not God’s desire that a sinner dies, but to repent and be saved. It was because of the hardness of men’s hearts that God gave temporary laws of stoning a sinner, pending when His mind will be revealed in Christ. Even before then, he could not hold it back. He said, “As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why you should die, O house of Israel?'" (Ezek. 33:11) If God had used that law on us, we would not have been redeemed but eliminated. We cannot have our communities healed if we do not follow God. War and killing does not bring redemption but more wounds and pains.

Bischi, a community in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau, state was once a victim of complex crisis that brought rigid divisions across religions and tribes within the community. There was a huge wall between Christians and Muslims, Fulani (herdsmen) and other tribes. For some time, there was no mutual understanding between the two major religions and the tribes involved. No one expected a Christian body to have anything in common with a Muslim community, or the other tribes interacting with Fulani men who were mostly accused of being the catalyst or promoter of the crisis.

Christian Faith Ministries took the risk of destroying the religious wall by establishing a computer centre in the community where both Christians and Muslims could have a common ground for interaction. In addition, many children from the Muslim background were given scholarships, for primary and secondary education: a step that changed Muslims’ perspectives regarding Christian communities. Muslims began to open up to Christians and the other tribes within the community. Christian Faith Ministries in partnership with Zoetis, vaccinated hundreds of Fulani cows. Most Fulani (herdsmen) were surprised that this kind gesture is coming from a Christian body. 

Instead of adding to the wall that had been built in the community, Christian Faith Ministries strategically destroyed the wall and today, the community has seen the light. At first, some pastors refused to be part of the initiative, they felt being on the defence is better than going through Samaria. They were wearing defensive eyeglasses (tooth for tooth and eye for eye). Today, these same religious leaders who frowned at CFM are now ambassadors of peace in the community. For the first time, Fulani herdsmen paid a Christian body a visit, they visited Kent Hodge in his apartment to thank him for responding to their needs.

Forgiveness is the way out; love and forgiveness never lose, they always win. Through love and forgiveness, on the cross of Christ, God defeated the hostility in us, the wall or barrier that kept us far from His goodness. He made peace with us through love. This is the way out; that we forgive when we are wounded, love when we are hated and give when we are spitefully used. This is the only way our communities can be healed or balanced, when economic walls between the rich and the poor are broken, tension will be reduced, insurgence and other societal ills will be conquered.

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