The next section of Jesus’ sermon isn’t referring to the abused spouse nor is it advocating that criminals can get away with it and neither is it an attempt to abolish whistle-blowing.
We live in a world that says, ‘Don’t let them walk all over you’ and ‘Stand up for yourself’.
Jesus says, “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 anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5 v 38-42)
It has received great attention throughout the centuries of theological debate trying to get to the root of what Jesus was saying. The pacifists and the conscientious objectors have used it along with the anarchists. This was never meant to be a theological blog and there are so many better thinkers who will do a greater justice to this text.
Jesus is bringing in his kingdom, it is deeper and higher than the kingdom of the world. It is an upside-down kingdom. The one major point in his sermon is that of hypocrisy that was so prevalent and still is.
Slapped on the cheek, sued for your shirt, forced to go a mile, begged or borrowed. Five instances of people taking from you.
The message is found in the response.
Here’s the big thing and I simply write it in a number of different ways, my own responses to the attacks that come our way:
“I will not do life like you do life. I belong to a different kingdom to you. I choose a higher level. Not out of arrogance or pompous attitude but simply because I will not stoop down to a level of the world which says I should retaliate by ‘hitting your cheek or saying NO to my shirt, that mile, that ask or the loan.”
“Look down on me, make me look unequal to you and my response to you will show the world that we are indeed not equal.”
“Make my life hard and I will expose your injustice by making your life easy.”
“Make me look like some cattle carrying your bags for a mile (the Romans practiced conscription amongst the citizens) and I will show you I will not be demeaned for I will go the extra mile. My generosity will defeat your conscription”
“Humiliate me but I will not be humiliated in my heart.”
“My humanity will expose your violent humanity by revealing a bigger heart than what is being shown.”
“I will fight within the Kingdom of Jesus not within your kingdom.”
That’s what I think Jesus is saying.
For those who don’t want to be like a doormat then decide to be a shoe polisher as well and you will turn the demeaning kingdom upside down.