38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 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. –Matthew 5:38-42 (NIV)
By now you have surely heard about the infamous “re-accommodation” of the United Airlines passenger. You have no doubt formed some opinions about this event and the organizations involved—United and their policies, the security officers and their poor handling of the event, maybe even of the Doctor and his actions. Frankly none of these people looked good in this situation – it was the “perfect storm” of bad decisions.
But what about the other passengers on that plane? Was there no one who could have “gone the extra mile” and taken the bump?
Now, don’t get me wrong… I probably would have had my head buried in my tablet as well. I would not have made eye-contact with the boarding agent when they requested people willing to be bumped, even to receive a credit on future flights (although I have to admit the new $10,000 limit will have me paying attention going forward… that would pay for all of the flights of one of our pastoral mission trips plus some!). I too have become one of those travelers who is more concerned about my own comfort and schedule than that of those around me. Not proud of that fact, but I fear it is the reality.
And it seems to be a reality in our culture that there is little consideration of “the greater good” and the occasional need for us to give up some of our “rights” or “privileges” in order to help others today. We elevate our individual rights and needs above all else. Maybe that is right and good in your mind…and it really is the way many of us drive—travel—and live our lives in so many ways.
But Christ calls us to live differently; to sacrificially give up our rights and to serve others even when it appears to be humiliating, unfair and even evil.
To do something that is at worst inconvenient… well, I think Christ would encourage us to rethink our response… to consider being inconvenienced to serve others… even those on a flight we aren’t on.
At least His words encourage me to do so.
Lord, help me to live a life of service to you and others. Help me to humble myself even in difficult situations. Let me walk the extra mile, turn the other cheek and give without expectations. Let me be more like You in all I do. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Steve Van Ostran