I’ve spent all of last week and will spend all of this week working in an area with a television. That allows me to watch the news and the morning talk shows. In the midst of this election season, it is not always a good thing.
I’m tired of the bickering, the scandals, the email leaks and name calling. I’m tired of listening to both parties fighting like school kids on a playground.
As annoying as it gets, conflict has defined this world recently more than ever before. We have terrorist violence in Europe, opposing groups here ready to step up in an instant. Even when we know there are good and honorable police officers, the headlines seem filled with ones that cannot do their job without issues.
In one of the more challenging passages in the Bible (Matt 5:39), Jesus gives us a valuable statement on violence.
“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.”
This doesn’t fly with America. We’re fighters! We stand up to evil and sniff it out wherever we find it. We’re the big dogs ready to police the world.
Yet, Jesus tells us differently.
In that sentence, he’s speaking on the street to an oppressed people. Violence was a fact of life. The Roman Empire ruled over Jerusalem. They could take, and do, what they wanted.
Jesus tells the crowd not to resist.
See, violence gives us a few choices: Counter punch. Bob and weave. Hit them first before they can hit us. All of these are responses in fear.
Jesus tells us to not be afraid.
Stand firm. Turn the other cheek.
It takes more strength to stand your ground. Jesus knew this. Martin Luther King Jr. knew this. Anyone who has faced down opposition and held to what they believed, they’ve known this.
Every martyr living in the midst of a hostile country and serving in love. Every mother sitting up late for her son when she has to work in the morning because she refuses to give up on him.
Every teacher reaching out to the kid sitting alone at the lunch table. Every coworker speaking out against harassment.
Every hero in the midst of the city understanding that the norm is not acceptable.
All of these know about turning the other cheek.
The key isn’t fighting back.
It is rising above.