Cheek Turning Days
I listened to several excellent sermons yesterday as I knocked tree rounds into chunks of firewood. One pastor offered an explanation on Jesus’ famous command to turn the other cheek that I have never heard before. I have not yet done my own research on it, but I think his take is worth considering.
His thesis was that the command was not about silently inviting abuse but actively pursuing relationship. The customary greeting in Jesus’ day involved a kiss on the cheek, as is still the case in many cultures. Like shaking hands in our culture, such a greeting communicated respect and good will. The door to relationship is open.
Then someone does you wrong. Perhaps they insult you, take advantage of you, fail to keep a commitment, shift blame from themselves to you, or the countless other ways one can receive a slap in the face. What then? The natural reaction is to cut off the relationship, withhold good will and nurse a degree of bitterness. But Jesus commands us to turn the other cheek; that is, to do whatever is necessary to continue pursuing relationship. Turning the other cheek does not mean ignoring the wrong, but addressing it in pursuit of reconciliation. That is clearly the harder, more costly path, but it is the path of Jesus.
In these days of increasing vitriol and divisiveness, followers of Jesus will shine bright as they turn the other cheek, continuing to pursue relationship in the face of unkindness.