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The Courage Not to Fight Back

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Last week was emotionally and physically exhausting for Holly and me. After getting Caleb to bed on Friday night, we crashed on the couch and rented the movie 42, Brian Helgeland’s biopic of Jackie Robinson.
In the movie, there is a powerful scene where Brooklyn Dodgers’ general manager, Branch Rickey decides he wants Robinson to be Major League Baseball’s first black athlete and calls him in for a meeting. He describes to Robinson the type of opposition he might face, detailing the hatred he will encounter at every turn. In the middle of his speech, Robinson stands up and interrupts Rickey.

“Are you looking for someone with the courage to fight back?”

At this, Rickey gets in face and says, “No. I’m looking for someone with the courage not to fight back!”

After seeing the dejected look on Robinson’s face, Rickey responds. “I know. But it kind of reminds you of our Savior, doesn’t it?”

The One Who Didn’t Fight

Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how Jesus modeled this. There were times that Jesus stood up and called out the adversarial Sadducees and Pharisees. He went into a rage and overturned tables in the Temple. He was a tough guy.

But when you begin to look at these scenes, you find a remarkable common denominator among all of them. He was never fighting for himself. He either fought for the “sinners,” the ones that the religious establishment had cast aside, or he was simply defending the intent of the Law.

When Jesus was finally arrested and put on trial, he suddenly went silent. He was questioned and mocked. The trials themselves were actually illegal. Pilate even struggled to know what to do, finding no fault in Jesus. And even though Jesus is the Son of God, which is quite the credential, he remained silent. After defending everyone, he refused to argue with the religious elites who were hell-bent on crucifying him.

What will we do?

I believe God has amazing plans for our generation. I believe Millennials will dramatically change society and I pray it will be for the best. But one of our greatest liabilities is the sense of entitlement we exhibit. As kids, we got sports trophies for losing. Some daycare centers have an expressed policy against saying ‘no’ to children because that is too negative. I’ve heard numerous stories of twenty-somethings bringing their parents to job interviews to vouch for them.

We’ve been told that we’re gifted and deserve only the most elite jobs with the best benefits. We expect meteoric success and nothing less. When it doesn’t happen, we whine, complain, and give up. But there was a reason that Jackie Robinson couldn’t fight back. His fight was for every other black athlete standing behind him.

Much more importantly, Jesus didn’t fight back because his unjust death would mean true life for the rest of the world. He could fight the religious elites for himself or fight the forces of hell for mankind, but he couldn’t do both so he laid himself down.

If Christian Millennials want to impact our post-modern society in a significant way, we must first get over ourselves. We have to give up our “rights’ of a high-paying job that we love showing up to every morning. We have to give up our sense of entitlement to a happy marriage and perfect kids. We have to get over the idea that we are God’s gift to the world.

Desperately fighting for these things will only create distractions from the greater mission we are called to. If we act every bit as entitled as our non-Christian counterparts, fighting for our own pride and sense of self-worth, we are turning ourselves into our own idols. This will only distract us from worshiping the true King who laid himself down so we could experience our true reason for living.

We can fight for ourselves or we can fight for the Gospel but we can’t do both. So, when life doesn’t give you what you think you deserve, do you have the courage not to fight back?

Posted in: Discipleship

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