Okay, now let’s really take a close look at the Genius of Jesus! The original audience would not be hearing what Jesus was saying as “some lofty ideas about being nice”, they would have seen what Jesus was saying as strong, tangible ways of subverting evil, of pushing the darkness of the world away and of asserting their own humanity! This is amazing! This is Genius!
So let’s take a look at the difference between pacifism and violence. When faced with evil, our options are: to do nothing, or to react in a revengeful and violent way. Jesus is not offering a “roll over and take it” way of dealing with these things. He’s not telling us that in the face of shame and humiliation to do nothing. Jesus say’s no………there’s a THIRD WAY!
The third way is a FOCUSED, DISCIPLINED ACTION in the face of the world’s injustice. By “turning the other cheek”, by “handing over our cloak”, by “walking the extra mile” we expose and unmask the situation for the evil or injustice that it is! –>>We drive back the darkness of the world with the light of Jesus!<<–
By “turning the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39), we expose the violence and deep destructive attitudes of others. Especially the attitude that says “I’m better than you”! –>>We drive back that darkness and show the light of Jesus!<<–
By “handing over our cloak” (Matthew 5:40), we expose the whole system of robbing people of their most basic dignity, we expose the cruelty of greed and taking advantage of weaknesses in this world. We say “no I won’t be a part of a system that takes basic necessities from others so that I can have more than I need.” –>>We drive back that darkness and show the light of Jesus!<<–
By “walking the extra mile” (Matthew 5:41), we expose the violence and humanity of using someone like a pack mule, of treating someone like an animal! –>>We drive back that darkness and show the light of Jesus!<<–
NOW, HERE’S THE REAL GENIUS OF JESUS: When we do these things, we give the other person the opportunity to do the right thing! If we respond with violence, if we respond with greed, if we respond with callousness to the evil in this world, we don’t give any room to the person to maybe, (and I know that it may not happen, we all know that) but we take away all possibility of that person to have “a change a heart”. We take away all possibility of the world seeing the light of Jesus.
The answer isn’t to do nothing. The answer isn’t to react to evil with violence. The answer isn’t to take advantage of others for our gain.
The answer is to assert our humanity, to rise above evil, to be a part of this movement of God that pushes away the darkness and exposing the light of Jesus. Join me in pushing away the darkness!