Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Turning the other cheek

From Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:38-45)

An Eye for an Eye

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Love for Enemies

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.

Lord Christ, you set the bar high with turn the other cheek and love your enemies. I’m stretching, grasping, but it seems out of reach.

I don’t believe you’re recruiting Christian doormats or punching bags. This is a call to reign in the impulses for retaliation and vengeance, to consider the collateral damage of striking back. Are we peacemakers or pugilists?

In business, we might turn the other cheek if the legal fees are prohibitive, but it’s not our default response.

In sports, there’s always payback. It’s clubhouse etiquette.

And politics, that’s blood sport: two eyes for an eye, two teeth for a tooth.

With me, I’m afraid it’s a practiced hypocrisy. I can appear to turn the other cheek as I fold in a little sarcasm. I’m very good with a subtle verbal punch.

The Message speaks for you, Jesus:

In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.
(Matthew 5:48)

Holy Spirit, help me learn to forgive as God forgives, to love as God loves.* I’m inclined toward combat; create in me a peacemaker’s heart. Amen.

* - William Barclay