Monday, November 7, 2016

what it means to turn the other cheek

Lewis talks about turning the other cheek today in A Year with C.S. Lewis.

He says that it means that we should never act on the impulse "He did that to me?? Well, I'll get him back." Revenge and vengeance have no place in the life of a follower of Jesus.

You might notice that this reading comes from an essay by Lewis called "Why I am not a pacifist". So he's NOT saying that we should never resist evil people. He is saying that when someone is abusing children, we should stop them. When someone is bringing about genocide, we should stand up to them. When someone is torturing people, we need to resist them and their regime. When ISIS is killing Christians, we need to stop ISIS.

But you notice the difference. Standing up for justice and protecting the weak has nothing to do with revenge. We're not stopping them because they're hurting our pride. We're not acting on personal anger at being slighted. We're acting to right wrongs and prevent needless suffering. Big difference.

Once we turn back to Jesus's actual teachings, we see how "turn the other cheek" is played out. Jesus tells us not only NOT to resist when someone hurts us, but He tells us to LOVE them. To bless them and pray for them. And when you step back and look at the big picture, you can see why. If everyone started practicing what Jesus taught, the whole world would be revolutionized. And it has. Jesus's followers made the world a different place in the centuries following His death and resurrection. Most of the world became Christian for almost a thousand years. It doesn't seem like a faith that teaches not to resist when someone attacks you could survive for very long. But love transforms hearts. It changes kings. It overpowers kingdoms. Amor conquista todo.

God, thank You for Your great wisdom, which seems impossible, but changes the world.