Turning the other cheek is a Biblical teaching that can be difficult to live out in practice.
That being said, it seems at least one group of Christians is able to embrace the tenet with grace and humility. A church in Athens, Texas, decided to help an atheist in need by raising money for his groceries and other essentials.
The individual who received the aide, Patrick Greene, had recently threatened to sue over the presence of a nativity scene on public property. He abandoned the lawsuit, the Friendly Atheist blog reports, when he found out that he was suffering from a serious eye condition that could lead to blindness.
If the nativity scene was, again, erected on public land, Greene previously said he would sue "to show that Christianity does not rule my state of Texas, the Constitution does. Christianity is only one of the many faiths represented in this state." Now, he seems to be singing a very different tune.
The symbol he was targeting may ring a bell. Remember when thousands of Christians rallied in Texas back in December in support a local nativity scene? The Freedom From Religion Foundation, as you may recall, was demanding that it be removed from the Henderson County Courthouse lawn. Greene was among those opposed to it.
Despite the rift between Greene and the Christians supporting the scene, Jessica Crye, an Athens woman, rallied believers to assist Greene in paying for groceries and other needs following his retirement as a result of the illness.
"I knew of his lawsuit and threats and thought how sad it was for him to be so bitter toward Christians," Crye is quoted in TylerPaper.com. "I thought he must have never felt the love of God through Christians. I also thought about how scary that must be."
So, she and her church stepped in and decided to put the past -- even the very recent threats of a lawsuit over a religious structure they believe in so deeply -- behind them. TylerPaper.com continues:
Now retired, Greene replied that he needed some funds for groceries and other expenses to carry him and his wife, Karen, while they got squared away with the start-up of Social Security income and pay their taxes.
A check was sent. Greene said he and his wife debated whether the check might be for $10 or maybe $50 or even $60.
To their astonishment that any Christian would ignore the fact that they are atheist and help, the check was for $400.
"Why not turn this into something else? This is a great opportunity to turn the other cheek and show God’s love," Crye said.
Her pastor, Rev. Erick Graham of Sand Springs Church, said that giving Greene the $400 dollars was a no-brainer.
"We didn’t have to think about it or pray about (it). We saw the need, he said. “We don’t discriminate on who we help, whether they are Christians or non-Christians, church members or not. We just help those with a need."
In addition to these funds, another $500 was donated by atheists who were also moved by Greene's plight. The man and his wife were so moved by the gesture that they actually purchased an electrical star for the nativity scene and had it shipped to Henderson County.
"I saw the nativity scene on a video on YouTube. There's no star on top of it. Shouldn't there be one?," Greene pondered. "I just hope that the Christians that weren't a part of this contribution to us don't mind that an atheist bought them a star."