Faith on the Frontstretch: A bump, a slap and turning the other cheek

Ty Dillon's truck after his last-lap crash on Sept. 1, 2013 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images  

“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b

Whether you watched the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Sunday or not, you probably heard about the slap and the bump.

First, the slap. In the final laps of the race, Max Papis and Mike Skeen battled hard for position, and as a result, both ended up wrecked on the last lap. The two played side-to-side bumper cars on the cool-down lap, exchanging gestures. When Papis stopped beside the No. 6 truck, he was approached by one of Skeen’s crew members, who reached inside Papis' truck.

Then as Papis and his wife attempted to walk away following a post-race interview, Skeen’s girlfriend ran up, yelled at Papis and slapped him across the face, reportedly dislocating his jaw. Skeen said Papis entered his hauler later and pulled his girlfriend off the stairs as he attempted to walk to the crew lounge at the rear.

Whether you lean toward the Skeen account of what happened or the Papis version, each driver felt he was wronged, both on and off the track.

The “bump” story involved Ty Dillon and race winner Chase Elliott. As Dillon led going into the final turn, Elliott got into his right rear quarter panel, and Dillon spun into the outside wall. There’s already been talk of payback next week at Iowa.

In racing and in life, we see interactions where emotions run hot and viewpoints differ. Whether it’s a bump in the corner or a slap to the face, humans don’t always play nice.

Jesus talked about “turning the other cheek” when someone wrongs us. What does that mean? Does it mean Max should have literally turned his head and offered the other cheek to Skeen’s girlfriend? Not really.

Let’s look at how Jesus handled a situation where He was slapped. After His arrest, when Jesus was talking to the high priest, one of the officers apparently took offense to what Jesus said and struck Him with the palm of his hand. Did Jesus meekly offer his other cheek? No. But He didn’t hit back either.

Instead, He matter-of-factly confronted the guy. Jesus said something like, “Hey, if I’ve said something wrong, tell me what it is. But I told the truth, so why did you hit me?” (John 18:22-23)

So, when there’s an issue between racecar drivers, how does it play out? Sometimes the two of them discuss it and move on. But other times a driver who feels he or she has been wronged will criticize the other driver when questioned by the media and mount defense on twitter later. Then tweeps take sides, commenting for or against each driver. It can get really ugly and messy.

Thankfully, most of us regular folks don’t get questions from the media when we have a falling out with someone. But let’s say in some everyday situation, you’ve been insulted or maligned. What is your next move? Call a friend to vent? Make vague comments on Facebook about how “some people” behave? If not, then how do you react?

At a gut level, we just want restoration of our good name and reputation. We want the hurt to be fixed. Our natural inclination is to defend ourselves publicly to those who know about the situation.

But if we want to respond like Jesus did, we’ll “turn the other cheek.” In other words, we won’t return evil for evil or insult for insult.

The biblical way* of handling an offense is through a respectful discussion in private. “Hey, so-and-so, can we talk?” Then have a (hopefully) calm heart-to-heart about what happened, explaining how you feel and trying to reconcile the situation. Will it always work? Probably not, but at least you’ll have tried.

So next time you’re slapped by someone’s words or actions, recall how Jesus reacted. Will you give “turning the other cheek” a try?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. ~ Matthew 5:38-39

* See Matthew 18:15

“Faith on the Frontstretch” appears every 1st & 3rd Wednesday and explores the role of faith in motorsports. Comments or twitter follows welcome: @bbreinke. See you on the Frontstretch!

Want more racing devotions? When you donate $25 to Skirts and Scuffs, we’ll send you a complimentary copy of Beth’s book, Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a month-long, pocket-sized devotional book for female racing fans.
Faith on the Frontstretch: A bump, a slap and turning the other cheek Faith on the Frontstretch: A bump, a slap and turning the other cheek Reviewed by Beth Reinke on Tuesday, September 03, 2013 Rating: 5