When you think of your favorite, most effective teacher (hopefully, teachers), chances are one of the traits of their teaching was/is humor. I know in my own experience, those who taught with even a smidgeon of goofiness, playfulness and clever satire always kept my attention and helped me not only remember but take to heart the important points they wanted to make (because receiving them was such a positive experience). In addition, a teacher with the gift of comedy always raised in stature in my book and became a teacher I'd raptly listen to about anything, because they were cool enough to be funny.
Chances are, Jesus was a very funny teacher. For all the reasons listed above. And because, well, the Bible, through the Comic Lens, tells us so.
My favorite theologian, Walter Wink (1935-2012), did a lot of fascinating work on how and where the Bible shows Jesus teaching his followers to be peacemakers, emerging God's realm of justice, harmony and joy for all, and in this world, through practical, effective, and hilariously clever acts of intentional non-violence. In the videos below, Wink leads most-entertaining demonstrations of Jesus' teachings in Matthew 5:39-41: If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. You can imagine what fun it was to learn from Jesus in likewise fashion. And then go out and do as you'd been commanded, engaging the Powers that Be and deflating their specious power engagingly.
These snippets are 3 of a 5-part lively and compelling lecture Dr. Wink gave at the Spiritual Pilgrimages of Peacemaking retreat in Princeton, New Jersey on February 8, 2008. You can check out additional snippets of this presentation if you go to the Walter Wink: Nonviolence for the Violent videos on YouTube.
Also, check out more of what Walter Wink has to say about Jesus' profound, creative peacemaking ways in his excellent book Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination (Fortress Press 1992).
Okay, now onto the videos:
"If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also" :
"If anyone wants to sue you and take you r coat, give your cloak as well" :
"If anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile."
What might all of this teach us about approaching our social justice work today in true Christ-like fashion???