Marshal your troops now, city of troops,
for a siege is laid against us.
They will strike Israel’s ruler
on the cheek with a rod.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.”
- Micah 5:1-2
Let him sit alone in silence,
for the Lord has laid it on him.
Let him bury his face in the dust—
there may yet be hope.
Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
and let him be filled with disgrace.
- Lamentations 3:28-30
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 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. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
- Matthew 5:38-42
“Nonresistance and forbearance are to be the rule among Christians. They are to endure personal ill treatment without coming to blows. They are to be as the anvil when bad men are the hammers, and thus they are to overcome by patient forgiveness. The rule of the judgment seat is not for common life, but the rule of the cross and the all-enduring sufferer is for us all. Yet how many regard all this as fanatical, utopian, and even cowardly? The Lord, our King, would have us bear and forbear and conquer by mighty patience. Can we do it? How are we the servants of Christ if we have not his spirit?”
- Charles H. Spurgeon, from his sermon notes
I suppose you might guess the theme in the selected Scriptures. Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek. Yet, I agree with so many others in the blogosphere that we need to draw the line when it comes to the madness, the cancel culture, and the destruction of so many things, far flung from the issues being protested. But how do we draw the line and where should the line be drawn and what does this line signify?
First, the Scriptures provide a transition to understand what striking someone on the cheek means.
The Micah reference to striking the king of Israel with a rod gives the essence of the symbol. It is likened to the person in olden days (but not as old as Biblical days) who removes his glove and strikes the other person across the face, signifying that they must fight in a duel. Micah prophesied that the “cities of troops” will be laying siege. And that the king will be goaded into retaliation. I included the second verse, to give a full picture. Israel and then Judah will be conquered, but God will bring forth the ultimate King when One, of the line of king David, will be born in Bethlehem. Yes, the conquerors can gloat over their victory, but their victory will not last long.
Then Lamentations turns the challenge to fight in the other direction. When the challenge is simply ignored, the challenger who slapped the other person’s face is now humiliated, not only denied the chance to fight to the death but embarrassed for being too insignificant to produce a response.
And then Jesus’ statement from the Sermon on the Mount follows. Rev. Spurgeon gives an extreme view, but similar to what Jesus had said. I have heard other interpretations of this lesson. A friend and pastor of a different denomination told me that what Jesus said was to resist the taunt. Do not be goaded into fighting by a simple slap across the face. We must be above that. But, if he punches me in the nose, he’s going down. Now this friend was a former American football player who was a running back for the Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears, and St. Louis Cardinals. So, he has had experience with some sort of violence and violent responses.
But are we to be the doormats for everyone to walk over, as Spurgeon suggests? How does that show Christ’s Love? We simply become the means for them to clean the jack-booted thug’s hobnail boots.
Can we, as Christians, take a stand by kneeling before the protestors, each holding large wooden crosses, to prevent the protestors from burning down the church? Now would that not be a picture? The picture would be worth the bruises. The BLM burning crosses. Kind of makes you think of a different group, doesn’t it? Would that act not clearly define the BLM as a hate group, what they “say” they are trying to fight against?
But it is odd that I wrote this post out of anger about something totally trivial, or is it?
I watch the weather a lot. I have no intention of leaving the house, so I have no idea why I watch the weather. The other day, a Thursday, the meteorologist announced a pleasant Friday-eve for most of the country. She then said, “And now for a moment of Zen.” The channel had soft music and a video of a lake, and a sunset. I was so offended that I wanted to explode!!!
First, I was a safety professional, part-time and full-time as issues arose, for about the last fifteen years of my working career. There are a variety of triggers that cause people to make stupid mistakes that get themselves and others into danger, basically anything that changes the routine or causes distractions. One of these triggers is the distraction of first or last working day. On the first working day of the week, we are not yet into the groove of doing things in a safe manner, and we could skip a safety step or take a step in the wrong direction. On the last day of the week, our distraction is thinking about what we are going to do over the weekend. In calling Thursday “Friday-eve” we are asking for workers to be distracted over their plans for or aftermath of weekend activities for three of the five working days. With the majority of the week consumed by distractions, getting into a good safety rhythm would be impossible. Thus, in calling Thursday “Friday-eve” we will eventually get people killed. Yes, killed, because of distraction and getting sloppy with safety procedures and good work practices.
Second, if the meteorologist would say “And now for a moment of Christian reflection” she would probably lose her job. We cannot cram Christianity down someone’s throat, but it seems obvious that we can cram Zen Buddhism down people’s throats. Then I thought more deeply on that one. The words “Jesus” and “God” are often used in vain, as curses. Does a video of a sunset over a lake in Minnesota, for example, bring us closer to being Zen Buddhists, or does it mock Buddhism or trivialize Buddhism? Is Buddhism being attacked or brought forward as an alternative religion? I’m offended, but confused on whether I should be on this last point.
And then I watched a panel discussion with four Christian pastors and one of the older pastors mentioned that Christians should be the least offended of all people, for we are taught to turn the other cheek. Now it comes full circle.
Do we turn the other cheek in every case? The first century Christians were lining up to be thrown to the lions, knowing that in death they would go on to Glory with Christ Jesus, but the church encouraged them to not do so. There needed to be a next generation of the church.
Like the common expression voiced by the children in the back seat when going on a trip, “Are we there yet?” Are we to the point where we are being called to martyrdom in a country where I remember everyone attending Christian worship when I was a child. We have gone from a Christian nation to a nation that abhors the name of Jesus Christ being mentioned in polite company, and now the streets run red with blood, anarchy in so many corners.
In what way do we draw the line? In what way do we take a stand? How can we show that they are hating, and we stand firm in God’s Love, to the point of loving those who persecute us?
May we start with going on our knees in prayer?
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.