My all time favorite episode of Seinfeld is the one where George decides to do the opposite of his first instinct in every situation. His rationale is that his whole life has gone exactly the opposite of how he wanted it to, so he's going to do everything the opposite in hopes that it will turn his life around. The episode is hilarious and this clip is what sets the whole thing in motion. Take 3 minutes and watch it.
What happens next is that George's life makes a complete turnaround and a brilliant episode of Seinfeld documents his meteoric rise.
While I find this episode highly entertaining, I also have found it to be true, in a way, about following Christ. In the show, George realizes that his first instinct is always the exact opposite of how he should act, because his first instinct is always dead wrong. As I thought about this idea after first seeing this show many years ago I realized I had the same problem as George. My first instinct is always wrong. I then realized that it wasn't because I was loser like George's character, but rather because I was a selfish, vengeful, irrational human being who naturally made wrong choices because that's what we do.
But Jesus called us to do the opposite. In his economy, the last is first and the first is last. If someone wrongs you, you should forgive them. If someone borrows something, you should give it, and offer them more. If you feel wronged, you don't need to seek revenge, that is God's job, not yours. If someone slaps you, don't hit them back, turn the other cheek. All of these things are the exact opposite of what I would do.
In my economy, the winner is first, not last. If someone wrongs you, you eviscerate them in some way. If someone borrows something, they better give it back, and thank you well. If someone slaps me, I slap back, or call an attorney.
Jesus says do the opposite of my natural inclination. Make sense right? Now do it. Not so easy.
I was perusing Facebook this week and noticed that two of my friends had shared an article. I didn't read the article. I didn't have to. All I needed to see was the picture that was thumbnailed in the Facebook post. It was this picture.
I knew that God was calling me out when I saw this picture, because I was offended. This was the opposite of my first inclination. When I heard about the Boston Marathon bombing my first emotion was bloodlust. I wanted the authorities, or a mob of Bostonians to find whoever did this and beat them mercilessly. I know I wasn't alone in that sentiment because my Twitter feed and Facebook timeline agreed with me. People who bomb events where innocent children are standing watching their parents complete a lifelong dream deserve to die horrible deaths right? We all agree on that right? Let's find them and freaking kill them! If we do that, then justice will be served!!!!!!
But Jesus comes along and says, "Nope, that won't do it." The opposite is true. Killing them won't bring back anyone who died in that blast. It won't regenerate the lost limbs. It won't make anyone's life more whole. That hatred and vengeance will only make you more hateful and bitter. The moment I saw that picture I knew I was wrong, and needed to pull a George Costanza and do the opposite.
The only thing
that can really make it better is to pray for the person who did this,
pray for the victims and their families. Help the victims and forgive
the perpetrators, that is what Jesus did on the cross. There will be
justice, I just don't get to be the executor of that justice. That's
God's job, and He gets to do it how and when he wants to. In fact, he
probably already handed out that justice, at the cross. My job is to
trust him, pray for my enemies and live the opposite of my natural
So George Costanza was on to something when he says later in that same episode, "Jerry, this is my religion". He wasn't that far from Jesus own idea of what religion should look like.