Returning hatred with hatred is easy, but Jesus calls us to turn the other cheek.
Jackie Robinson is called into Mr. Branch Rickey’s office to see if he would like to join their Montreal team for spring training. Previously, Robinson made a name for himself as a great player in the Negro League, but with quite a temper. He’s known to get into arguments on the field and even mouth off to anyone who disrespects him. Still, Mr. Rickey thinks he’s the right choice for the team. He brings him into his office, and begins to work out a deal with Robinson.
Turning the Other Cheek, Self-control, Perseverance, Restraint, Revenge
Having just finalized Robinson’s salary, Mr. Rickey brings up his last concern with Jackie. He knows he’s a good ball player, but can he control his temper? Robinson seems somewhat taken aback by the question, as if he hadn’t considered it. But clearly, Rickey has. “A black man in white baseball. Can you imagine the reaction? The vitriol?” He then goes on to illustrate a number of scenarios Robinson is all but guaranteed to encounter: a white hotel clerk insulting him, and refusing to give him a room; a waiter, refusing to take his order at a table, and calling him terrible names. “What are you going to do then? Fight him? Ruin all my plans? Answer me!” At this, Robinson stands up, somewhat offended. “You want a player who doesn’t have the guts to fight back?” he asks accusingly. “No. No.” Rickey replies, “I want a player who’s got the guts not to fight back.” If Robinson fights back, he explains, he’ll lose all credibility as a professional. “Echo a curse with a curse, and they’ll hear only yours,” he tells him. “We only win when the world is convinced of two things: that you are a fine gentleman, and a great baseball player.”
What Branch Rickey asks of Jackie Robinson feels nearly impossible. He’s guaranteed to have insults thrown at him, death threats made against him, and be horribly discriminated against by a good portion of American society. Robinson knows that people will hate him for nothing more than the color of his skin, and he’s asked to not stand up for himself. How could a person be expected to comply with such a difficult task? The reality is, what Rickey asks of Robinson is biblical, and all Christians have been tasked with the same challenge. In Matthew 5:38-39, Jesus tells His disciples that instead of taking an eye for an eye, we must learn to turn the other cheek. Jesus demonstrated this when He was being falsely accused before his crucifixion (Mark 14:60-61). In fact, not only are we called to not retaliate against our enemies, we are asked to actively love them. In Luke 6:27-36, Jesus tells us to give to those who take from us, do good to those who hate us, and bless those who curse us. Romans 12:14 calls us to bless those who persecute us. People who live by the standards of this world, upon hearing these commands, would understandably think them insane. Why would we be called to this? First, because revenge is not ours to take (Deuteronomy 32:35). Second, it sets Christians apart (Matthew 4:46-47). Think about how against our natural reaction it is to love those who hate us. It’s an incredible witness for Christ when you are able to rise above your instinct, above gratifying your gut reactions, and instead take the high road. Jesus says that others will know we are His followers by our love, He never said that loving would be easy. But by refusing to hate those who persecute you, like Jackie Robinson, you can be an example of Christ to a world that does not know Him.
Turning The Other Cheek, Turn Other Cheek, Self-control, Perseverance, Restraint, Revenge, Overcome Evil With Good
Use discretion. Make sure the audience is age-appropriate. This clip contains uses of the word "niggar" and “son of a bitch.”