But I Say Unto You . . .

Matthew 5:39 KJV “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

There may be some of you that will not agree with what I am about to say. I understand that. And if you can show me where my understanding is wrong, I will acknowledge it, but from what I read in the Bible, this is what I see about how the Children of God are to interact with our enemies, when we solely represent the Kingdom of God.

We’ve all read this quoted Scripture from Jesus, correct? Question: Do you think Jesus was joking or using a metaphor? In other words, do you think that Jesus was using a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action, to which it is not literally applicable?

Considering all the other things that Jesus asked us to do that go against the grain of human nature, I would have a tendency to say that you’d have a pretty difficult time making a case that Jesus did not mean exactly what He said.

How about Luke 6:27-36 NASB? “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who are abusive to you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat people the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil people. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Emphasis is mine.

And what do you think is the point that Jesus is trying to make us understand? Would it be that we are to be different from those who are focused on the ways of this world? If we only love those who love us, would that make us different? If we only do good to those who do good to us, would that make us different? If we only lend to those who we expect to receive it back from, would that make us different? Obviously the answer to those questions is no, it would NOT make us different.

How about using force, say like using a sword, to stop something that is about to happen that is perceived as wrong, from happening? You recall how Jesus instructed Peter to ensure that His disciples had swords handy just before Jesus was arrested (Luke 22:35-38). If you need to refresh your memory on what transpired, just click here. You recall that Jesus specifically said that these changes from the norm, were now necessary to do what? Fulfill prophecy as in Isaiah 53:12,, i.e. “numbered with the wrongdoers”. Two swords were available and Jesus indicated that “it was enough”. Did EACH disciple require a sword? Evidently not, because Jesus said that two swords were enough. Wrongdoers tried to enforce their goals by force, they typically carried swords. You recall what Jesus said to the chief priests, officers of the temple and elders in Luke 22:52-53 NASB: “And Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders who had come against Him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as you would against a man inciting a revolt? While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the power of darkness are yours.” Peter cuts off the ear of the guard and Jesus reprimands him for doing so, and heals the guards ear. And the reasoning Jesus gave? “Those who life by the sword shall die by the sword”. Emphasis is mine. So yes, Jesus was numbered with the wrongdoers but He did not condone the use of force to further the Kingdom of God. Not once.

It’s important to note that we are NOT talking about a country’s army or forces using weapons, we are talking about the Kingdom of God and as such we are solely talking about the children of God who are within the Kingdom of God. Fighting for your country, either as a Christian or a non-Christian is one thing, fighting for the Kingdom of God is another. They are not one and the same. When we SOLELY represent the Kingdom of God, using force against your enemy is never condoned. When you love your enemies as children of God, within the Kingdom of God, you do not kill them. Nor do you slander them or threaten them or mistreat them in any way.

And how far would Jesus take this DIFFERENT way of thinking? Luke 23:34 gives us the answer. “And Jesus said, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And parting his garments among them, they cast lots.”

There is a lot of misunderstanding within the Christian Church today when it comes to standing up for your country and standing up for the Kingdom of God. When our country is attacked by an enemy, both Christians and non-Christians would be compelled to defend our country with force. That is the way of the world and because Christians live in countries where everyone is NOT Christian, most Christians would respond to a foreign attack by defending our country, with force.

However, when it comes to the Christian Church, the body of true believers, which I would think, should qualify as being of the Kingdom of God, is being attacked, either verbally or physically, this attack does NOT give the Children of God the authority or mandate to deviate from what Jesus specifically asked us to do, as children of God, when dealing with our enemies or those who disagree with us.

If we, as Christians, spent half the time and effort fulfilling the Great Commission that Jesus commanded us to do, in the manner in which He instructed us to do it, as we currently do working towards earthly solutions, then maybe this current mess that we, as the Christian Church are in, within our countries, where the lines have been crossed between building the Kingdom of God and establishing power bases to advance our Christian ideals, would have a totally different outcome. One methodology uses worldly means while the other depends entirely on God to fulfill the anticipated result. Ungodly means are never justified to accomplish Godly goals. Jesus told us that without Him we could do nothing and no, that wasn’t a metaphor either.

Not only have we walked away from loving our enemies but we have also walked away from loving one another, which the early Christian Church was noted for. If ever there was a hostile environment during the birth of the Christian Church, it would have to be Rome. And, as history records, the early Christian Church turned the then known world upside down. And the reasons for that, preaching Christ crucified in the power of the Holy Spirit and “behold how they love one another”. I find it ironic that the exact opposite is now happening, the world and its lawless thinking, is now turning the Christian Church upside down. We put our trust and hopes into worldly efforts behind a man and a political party, because we failed to follow the Great Commission that Jesus gave us and build the Kingdom of God.

And what did God tell us? My ways are not your ways and My thoughts are not your thoughts. Funny how we keep forgetting that.

So please don’t tell me that as Christians we are justified to slander our enemies and demean those who disagree with us. We are entitled to make our case but it should be validated by our actions and words towards them, even in disagreement and those actions and words should be different from how the world reacts because we are different.

Problem being, we’re not.

Does the Church need to repent, individually and collectively? You tell me.

Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!

26 comments

  1. “Fighting for your country, either as a Christian or a non-Christian is one thing, fighting for the Kingdom of God is another. They are not one and the same. When we SOLELY represent the Kingdom of God, using force against your enemy is never condoned. When you love your enemies as children of God, within the Kingdom of God, you do not kill them. Nor do you slander them or threaten them or mistreat them in any way.”

    Amen to that, and to the entire post. Great job, Bruce.

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  2. I view my human opponents as I view Saul before he left for Damascus. Any of those people may be future allies. I want the light and might of God to knock each of them down, not me.

    At the same time I don’t sit back without speaking against falsehood. For example, I am pro-life. I will not compromise on that when faced by some Saul demanding that I kneel to his pro-abortion position.

    As far as repentance goes, I hope to be in a constant state of repentance which given my own life and still sharp memory is not hard to do. That brings joy because of Jesus’s resurrection. That means I do not have to knock down my opponent. Jesus will, if my opponent is favored and willing. I’ve been in my opponent’s shoes.

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    • Hi Frank, that’s a good way to look at things, especially opponents. It’s not to hard to see yourself in others if you take a good look. With regard to compromise, there are a number of non-negotiable subjects that I also have. I can tell you why I hold those views, if you disagree that is your call but it will not change my mind on what I believe God’s Word says and yes, I also am pro-life. The older I get the more and more I see God’s grace in literally everything so there is no room for pats on the back. I marvel at God’s patience. Thank you for taking the time to comment, sincerely appreciated. God’s grace, peace and blessings to you and yours.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think Jesus is serious. Our job is to love, forgive, turn the other cheek and do unto others as we would have done to us.

    That doesn’t mean however that we should not speak the truth of the kingdom of God. Jesus did. It got Him crucified. We will be persecuted. That is reality.

    Blessings. Great article.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. An interesting post! I have read in various places the significance of striking with different hands in biblical times, so there might be more to that. Let me see if I can find you a link… I’ll comment again once I do.

    In any case, I do agree with you on this. (And if I didn’t agree, as a Christian I should find an appropriate way to express my disagreement, without resorting to ugly behavior.)

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  5. You did a good job grasping this nettle Bruce, and I think your conclusion is spot on too.
    There are many scripture verses that make it clear we are to stand out from the crowd, we live in the world but be separate from it. If we adopt worldy ways how are we to be seen as God’s children proclaiming His Gospel? In my opinion many churches have slidden down into darkness in this 21st Century, and need to repent!

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  6. Bruce, it would seam as though we do; at least I need to repent – There are hard sayings; “Will you leave me too?” Where would I go, You have the Words of Life! Seams to be a time of sifting, or purging of the church. They went out from us because they were not of us. We talk revival (a week of meetings to call the world to repentance) Not so much talk about our Revival – it starts with me. If the Church was who she should be… Why is the Church influenced by the world more than the other way? You are right, we should be who we were called out to be, Salt and Light – Purifying by shedding light on the Truth.

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  7. Bruce, thanks for the good thoughts. As the early church became increasingly institutionalized, it adopted the imperialism/worldliness of the empire and Jesus’ radical teaching in Luke 6 became an impractical ideal.

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    • Impractical ideal, is that another way of saying, let’s do it our way, where we maintain control versus God’s way? I wonder how history would have changed had the side ramp not been taken? I remember in the OT when all the men of Israel had to muster before the Lord three times a year, God promised them that while they came together, no one would desire their land, livestock or remaining women and children. It didn’t take them too long to abandon those gathering either. Being not practical surely must have come up. Then again, was it not being practical or simply not trusting God’s wisdom? Just thinking out loud. I hear you Tom. Blessings.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I do take that passage literally and you are right this is what we are to do as Christians. Good distinction made between the personal and national defense and those in offices involving roles with applied force. While I personally think there is a limited role of home self-defense involving protecting one’s family especially wife and children I think in evangelism one should never be armed, fight or strike someone because of the cause of Christ.

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      • I’ve been thinking about this too Annie. When it involves others, especially our wives or children, I would think that we are right to protect them from being harmed if we are able to do that. Likewise if we see someone else being harmed. But where it only involves ourselves, I would try to honour God’s direction and rely on Him to ensure His will is followed. I know that some situations might be hard to call. I don’t know if that helps but I hope it does. Blessings.

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      • The topic of self-defense is not easy, I admit. This is my view and I hope I am not going against Bruce’s post but I see Genesis 14 which is pre-Mosaic law and pre-Israel affirm the idea of defending others. I see Genesis 14 in light of Genesis 12:1-3 that Abraham is to be a blessing to others wholistically and not just with the Messiah and one of the ways is lovingly defending others (though of course when Abraham disobeys God such as lying that his wife Sarah is his sister, it results in the opposite of blessing others). But it must be done in accordance with the laws in one’s community. The only area I’m almost a pacifists when it comes to not defending oneself is during evangelism, I always tell my evangelism team coming with me that we should be willing to take hits and not fight back, use pepper spray, etc., so people don’t slander Christ and say we were using violence. One time though we had two atheists almost fight each other because one felt the other one was rude and prideful in talking to us and we had to physically separate them; in that role we didn’t use any violence of course but I think everyone even witnesses would say we did it lovingly…I suppose we can say blessed be the peacemaker?

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      • Thanks for commenting Jim. I ran into a post a while ago that speaks about this “but I say unto you” aspect that you might find interesting. Here it is: https://www.knowableword.com/2018/07/27/context-matters-you-have-heard-that-it-was-said-but-i-say-to-you/ As it points out in this post, “When Jesus refers to the Old Testament, it is the written word. When he mentions what “you have heard that it was said,” he is talking about the Pharisees’ oral traditions.” which I found interesting. I think the teaching to turn the other cheek is a clear directive that is applicable when we are in the position of representing Christ to others who are not of the faith. As far as how we should act towards those who profess faith, God’s Word is very clear in that we should be as loving and forgiving as possible, even when it comes to their needing correction. or us receiving correction. Protecting our loved ones in our home or even outside from a clear and present danger that is unavoidable, does present a grey area I would think. Blessings Jim!

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