Thursday, September 15, 2022
One of my favorite newspaper comic strips is Frank and Ernest. One episode I remember shows Frank exiting a Stress Relief Class. As he approaches Ernest, he says, “We learn to take things as they come and not stress out.” Ernest responds with, “It’s an ‘Oh-Well-ness’ program.”
I believe it would benefit each of us to say “Oh well” a little more often. There’s far too much stress in our lives, and much of it is self-generated. In today’s Scripture, Peter points out to us one way in which we generate stress: we seem to suffer from a growing epidemic of “wrong-righting.”
1 Peter 2:20-23 “But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”
Wrong-righting is the prideful pursuit of self-serving justice. It is our attempt to make sure everyone knows when we are right, and to fix it when they don’t. It’s pretty stressful having to defend oneself all the time. It’s overwhelming to take on the total responsibility for one’s own image. Wrong-righting stands opposed to Oh-Well-ness.
I suspect that our lives would be much more enjoyable if we weren’t constantly under pressure to prove ourselves. In Aesop’s fables, a traveler was entertaining some men in a tavern with an account of the wonders he had done abroad.
“I was once at Rhodes,” said he, “and the people of Rhodes, you know, are famous for jumping. Well, I completed a jump there that no other man could equal within a yard. That’s a fact, and if we were there I could bring you ten men who would prove it.”
“What need is there to go to Rhodes for witnesses?” asked one of his hearers. “Just imagine you are there now and show us your leap.”
Many who say they follow Christ have only their words to try to prove it. But true followers of Christ prove their commitment by walking in the steps of Jesus. They trust their lives, their reputations, and their image to the One who judges justly. They do not seek human justice. They wait patiently for God’s justice, and as they do, they know the life of Jesus will be revealed through patient endurance of suffering.
We have been called to such a commendable lifestyle. We have been granted the grace and the faith to graduate with honors from God’s Oh-Well-ness program. Bad stuff happens. Oh well. Friends accuse us of wrong-doing when we know we are innocent. Oh well. Bosses fire us for what someone else did. Oh well. Injustice invades our lives every day. Oh well.
Our natural tendency is to fight. Our flesh says fix it. Our pride demands protection of our reputation. Our faith says Oh well.
Instant stress relief. Someone else is responsible for the outcome. We have a great example of a perfect outcome – the resurrection of Jesus to glory. So forget the bad stuff. Forget your image. Don’t worry about your reputation. If you’re following in the steps of Jesus, it won’t matter what people say. And when all those people, whose opinion you’re so concerned about today, stand in front of Jesus to be judged, they’ll see you standing beside Jesus, and they’ll have to give glory to God because of how you lived your life.