The Civil Writer Magazine

What is the difference between reacting and responding? A reaction and a response may look exactly alike. But they are different. Some people use the words synonymously but they are a world of difference. The difference between the two lies in a deep breath, a pause, or a brief moment of mindful presence. There’s no filtering process when you react in a situation – you’re running on auto-pilot not thinking. To respond is more thoughtful. When you respond, you first explore in your mind the possible outcomes of your reply before saying a word. Jesus reacted to two situations that should be teachable moments and not looked at as some righteous divine response.

The ultimate purpose of teachable moments is to provide future information that can increase effectiveness and efficiency in our daily lives. The cleansing of the Temple narrative tells of Jesus expelling the merchants and the money changers from the Temple, buy turning over tables, throwing out money. This was a reaction by Jesus of physical force rather than responding in a thoughtful manner. The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Jesus cursed the fig tree.

Both events were reactionary moments by Jesus.

Would it had been better if he had responded differently. Christian theologians conspicuously leave these events out as teachable moments as to what not to do in life. You respond to a child not react. If you walked into their dirty room would you react by turning over tables and board games. If the basketball team is not performing do you as coach kick balls and chairs like former Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight. Jesus should have created a balance in his world of stress.

Jesus running people out of the temple and cursing the fig tree