Posted by: robbiexgibson | 13 December, 2007

Roll over and take it!

Next Monday’s passage is Matt 5:38-42.

We of course face the same problem here as with the other passages: how literally should we take it? Is Jesus really calling us to be doormats?

I would like to note a few things here:

  • The command “an eye for an eye” was given to limit the concept of revenge – that is, if someone kills your dog, you are not allowed to slaughter his family. Jesus seems to be again going beyond this old testament command
  • A related old testament command in Lamentations seems to be set in a context of despair rather than hope
  • I find it ironic that the person who first springs to mind when I read this is Mahatma Gandhi – a Hindu!
  • Did Jesus turn the other cheek? (John 18:22-23)

So, a few questions to get you thinking (if you aren’t already!):

  1. If we interpret this command literally, we will have no money and no clothes. Does that fact that we have both mean that we are not obeying Christ’s command?
  2. Are we being commanded not to resist evil? What are the (Biblical) alternatives?
  3. Which do you find more challenging, the command to turn the other cheek or the command to give to those who ask?
  4. What do these commands means for those of us who work in banking or the armed forces?

By the way, I found this article by a Mennonite pastor very useful (the Mennonites make peace a central basis of their faith).

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Responses

  1. hi have read the questions sorry i left it too late for a comment, i think the artical the mennonite pastor wrote is interesting.

  2. Oof, OK I have to post this before we have our next session, although my memory is a bit hazy of our session 4 weeks ago!

    I think our discussion can be summarised in a few key points:
    1) The commands in the 2nd half of the passage are about showing God’s abundant grace to others. Freely you have received, so freely you shall give (Matt 10:8)
    2) Of course we have to exercise discernment when giving of our time, energy, possessions or money. But discernment shouldn’t be used as an excuse not to give.
    3) I said “our time, energy, possessions or money”. But “all things come from you, and of your own do we give you” as it says in the Anglican liturgy (and in 1 Chron 29:14 if you really want to be evangelical about it!). So we need to cultivate a sense of detachment from all of these things and realise that they aren’t ours to horde, but gifts to be used to the greater glory of God’s kingdom
    4) For the non-retaliation part of the passage (1st half), I seem to remember that we saw this applying in a context of (self-)defense rather than revenge, but my notes aren’t very good from that bit. Feel free to step in if you can remember or have anything to add!


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