Monday, October 05, 2009

turning the other cheek

"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." Matthew 5:38-40

Sometimes I wonder if we, as a Church, really take Jesus seriously. Or if we really want to implement his ideas in our lives.

I've had a lot of conversations lately that involved situations I was faced with, or other Christian people were faced with, which centered around a "difficult" or "dishonest" person who was trying to take advantage of me or them, sometimes in very small and insignificant ways, sometimes in much more significant ways. And I mentioned this principle, spoken from the very mouth of Jesus, as an example of how, perhaps, we should behave.

These are some of the responses that have followed:

- Jesus didn't mean we have to become doormats.

- It's not "loving" to give way to people all the time, because they'll just learn to rely on people always doing that for them.

- Jesus was talking about "evil people", not every-day relationships.

In response, I would acknowledge the grain of truth in these arguments. We would not, for example, give our children everything they ever asked us for, because it is definitely not loving to allow them to grow up spoiled and greedy.

But I wonder if we are in danger of explaining Jesus' words away entirely, treating the Sermon on the Mount as an amazing example of theological radicalism, and removing the need for it to be applied to our lives. We should not deceive ourselves - they are radical teachings - and Jesus meant every word. I don't think any of us will ever be able to live up to them, but shouldn't we at least acknowledge the desirability of this?

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