“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 an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”
Matthew 5: 38-39
It sounds like an impossible task. The concept of “turning the other cheek” goes against everything we’re taught growing up: to stand up for ourselves, to hold our ground, or to “fight like a man.” Backing down is often viewed as weak and cowardly. So what was Jesus talking about?
Jesus wasn’t talking about running away in fear or cowardice, but something much more difficult. It requires tremendous courage to stand your ground but not retaliate. In other words, even when unfairly attacked, you do not react. You stand your ground and take what comes – turning the other cheek. Now, this takes a lot of guts. And in reality, very few can do it – it just isn’t natural. In fact, it’s really a supernatural calling for the disciples of Jesus. So followers of Jesus, pay attention, because this calling is for you!
But what about bullies and truly evil people? Well, God has ordained earthly authorities to defend the weak, to uphold justice and to see that evil is punished. Who are these authorities? Parents, teachers, coaches, supervisors, and most of all government. This is why it’s always important to read Scripture in light of Scripture. In other words, know the context. Remember, Jesus was teaching about the call of the individual Christian. He wasn’t talking about a corporate body like the state or government whose job it is to protect citizens, to uphold justice and to punish evil. Jesus was talking to His individual followers, His disciples.
Jesus calls us to lives that are radically counter-cultural – supernatural even. And when Christians stand their ground and courageously turn the other cheek in the face of evil – that has a profound impact on the world around us. So are you ready to live radically counter-cultured for Jesus?