Finding and applying the core meaning of "turning the other cheek"
Life has really changed. With all of the amazing connectedness we have through social media, we are more alone than ever. We see people via Facetime but we cannot touch them. We “chat” without talking. We “like” without truly feeling emotion, we “follow” without knowing where we are going and we “join” without ever going anywhere. As a result of all of this non-active activity, when someone crosses us in any of these virtual environments we can snap back at them in so many ways with without having to actually face them. We tweet, post, Instagram, email, text – all with anonymity. Funny, Jesus specifically taught us to “turn the other cheek” - not to virtually smack them upside their head! What does turning the other cheek even mean and how do we apply it in both our real and virtual worlds? Is this teaching of Jesus still as relevant and powerful as it was centuries ago?
Before we even get to the relevance of “turning the other cheek” we need to clearly understand its meaning, as there are many who say it is metaphorical and others who say it is strictly literal. One key factor in understanding what Jesus was saying when he taught us to turn the other cheek is that this statement was not a stand-alone teaching. It was but one teaching is a long series designed to give his most devoted followers real, practical, life-driven examples of how to follow him in any and all of their experiences. “Turning the other cheek” followed the Beatitudes – the "Blessed are you if"… Scriptures. It followed the being the “salt of the earth” and a “light to the world” Scriptures. It followed many of the “...But I say to you” Scriptures – lessons in living up to a higher standard of the spirit of the Law rather than the letter.
What if it's not even your fault? Key point: To turn the other cheek is just another rung in a ladder of spiritually-minded behavior. It is a step up – an advanced step up - that helps us to solidify who we are, what is important to us and how we will act as a result. So, if turning the other cheek is part of an overall process, then it would be logical to conclude that it is not merely a literal statement, but it is in fact a statement of a frame of mind – a statement of a way of life.
All well and good, so now the next question: Why did Jesus specify that if someone smites you on your right cheek you are to turn the other? What is there about the right cheek – is it different than the left? Is Jesus saying that if someone smites you on the left cheek you can haul off and hit him back? Check out our February 5, 2018 podcast, “Do We Have to Turn the Other Cheek?” and see what role the right cheek plays and how all of this adds up to a profound lesson in stellar Christian thinking and behavior.
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