Turn The Other Cheek

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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"But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also."

Matthew 5:39

Something in me recoils when I read this passage. How can Jesus expect me not to fight back when I am attacked? Not to defend myself if I am sued? Can he be serious?

No doubt those who heard Jesus utter these words in person were also perplexed. His instructions concerning their personal relationships were scandalous in an honor/shame society where striking someone on the right cheek was an egregious insult. Retaliation was a must if one was to regain honor. Moreover, Jesus even had the audacity to suggest that if a hated Roman soldier demanded something unjust, his disciples should do even more than the soldier required. How could Jesus have been serious?

What Jesus teaches about non retaliation is part of the lifestyle of the kingdom of God. Yes, it grates against our culturally conditioned sense of right and wrong. Yes, it calls us to what might seem like an impossible standard. But it's part of who we are to be as kingdom people.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Can you think of a situation when you chose not to return evil for evil? Why did you do this? How did it feel? What was the result? Do you think Jesus means we should never address situations when we are victims of wrongdoing?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, I must confess that I find this to be a most troubling passage. I'm happy with the potential ambiguity of "blessed are the peacemakers." But when you draw out the implications and call me not to retaliate when I am wronged, I don't like it.

Nevertheless, I hear your words and am compelled to obey them. Help me, dear Lord, to be able to turn the other cheek and to walk the second mile. When I am struck, usually by people's unkind words rather than by their hands, help me not to hit back.

At the same time, give me wisdom to know how to respond to injustice. You aren't calling me to be a doormat for evil. Yes, I'm not to return evil for evil, but I am to seek justice. When someone wrongs me, you call me to reconcile, not just to take it and pretend that everything's okay. So help me, Lord, to live in this world as a peacemaker, as a seeker after justice. Above all, help me to imitate you each and every day in every facet of my life. Amen.