“I believe in turning the other cheek and all, but you can’t let people take advantage of you.” That, is a very sensible sentiment that one often hears from Christians. In fact it seems to be the normal way we teach the call found in Matthew 5:39. Like so many other aspects of the radical call to discipleship, we have taken its teeth out and left it as an empty meaningless shell.
But what does it mean? One thing we learn from the text is that Jesus is not calling for us to avoid the confrontation. In this text, Jesus didn’t say “stay away from those who might smite you on the cheek.” That certainly is good practice. It makes sense to stay away from those who might
We can become immune to the radical nature of our faith by hearing something over and over again. One of the radical statements that we domesticate is the call to “Turn The Other Cheek” found in Matthew 5:39. This is an interesting call.
There are some interesting thoughts from this call. First, the Master didn’t say run away from the “evil person.” Such a call might infer cowardice. That is not the only interpretation of such an event, but certainly it is one.
The Master didn’t say try not to be invovled with the evil person. Keep your face away from the evil person.
The master didn’t say return the swat on the face.
No the master demonstrated a radical way of being in the world. We stand there and take it, but we don’t return the evil.
It is not a call to cowardice. The master didn’t say run away from the Turnign the other cheek is an interesting call. Sometimes we are immune to how radical of some of our statements. We quickly say “turn the other cheek.” Many of us say we attempt to live by this and some of the other statements of Jesus.
However, when the rubber hits the road, we start dancing. Jesus tells us that we have heard “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” First, where have you heard such a thing?
You have heard it in just about every area of life. In fact it is the very code of our existence. When our children are bullied we teach them to not allow themselves to be taken advantage of. When someone cuts us in line, we don’t allow it to happen.
In fact some have even said that Jesus didn’t mean that you let people take advantage of you…Well if this text does not say that, what could he have said to imply that. Clearly Jesus says if someone strikes you, turn the other cheek onto that one.
And if you want to argue that it does not mean what we know it means, as some seek to argue, the next verse tells us that if someone takes you to court and takes your shirt, go head on and give that one your jacket. Matthew 5:40. Again, I say, What?!
How can one live like that. Will that one have any possessions at all? Will that one simply go through life allowing others to get over on them? Will that one be able to live in this life?
Now some want to argue, “Hey the scripture is telling us not to allow these things to take first place….If we do
Christianity is to live a “Christ Centered Life.” That is to take the sermon on the mount and truly live by these principles. That sounds so good, but we Christians can say that very clearly and forcefully, until someone starts reading the sermon on the mount…
At that point we start dancing and dodging. I mean what does the sermon on the mount say? “turn the other cheek.” Will that work?