Abundant life, Leadership

Turning Cheek

img_3275Matthew 5:39  But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.

In this context, the command to “turn the other cheek” would not be a command to allow someone to beat or rob a person, but a command not to take vengeance.  So this teaching by Jesus is not about self-defense, but about an attack on your dignity. As a peacekeeper Jesus wants us to bear insults without complaint and to turn the other cheek to relate to the principle of loving one’s enemy. Here the emphasis is as much on the individual’s internal attitude as it is upon the assailant.  If a person responds to evil in anger or self-defense, he becomes attached to the evil and it can dominate him. The anger and hatred of his attacker is transferred into his own anger and resentment at being a victim, and he loses his balance and spiritual strength. However by bearing and accepting insults and abuse without dwindling of his own goodwill and mental concentration, he can stay above the hatred and preserve a foundation of spiritual independence and self-possession. In the end, it is only by maintaining spiritual personal vision in the midst of the insults that a person can have the strength to love his enemy and win him over.

There are those who want to come against us regardless if they even know us.  They have heard things and then they believe what they have been taught without learning for themselves.  Why can’t people just call and ask, to make it simple.  Isn’t it worth knowing instead of repeating a tale?  It is sad but true.  Terms fly in the air with accusation of who we are, what we believe, not believing a certain doctrine and the list goes on.  The Spirit of God rises up in me to take a stand and rebuttal in debate, but then I know it is useless to those who wish not to change and be set free from legalistic standards of control.  I had a couple approach me yesterday over part of their family who land blasted our church as a whole.  First of all, “Love” comes to mind.  The greatest commandment is to love God with every part of our being and then to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Then the next Scripture that comes to mind is to pray the Father’s will be done.  It is not what would Jesus do, but what does Jesus want to do through me.  Many people came against Christ and His teachings because it went against tradition or doctrine.  My Bible tells me that Jesus openly rebuked the Scribes, Sadducees and the Pharisees for their tradition of the law trying to condemn or fault finding for not following their law.  People followed Jesus because of love not law.  All sorts of people, rich, poor, lonely, sick, hungry, thirsty and nations of multitudes came to hear Jesus.  The Bible doesn’t record how many of those multitudes continued on with their walk but they did get a chance to hear.  We can never be able to make everyone happy or agree in every minuet detail however we can love others and display His love.

My suggestion to this couple over issues with their family and their beliefs is just to love them, smile and show the fruit of the Spirit.  Everyone is made in God’s image.  Everyone has potential to be blessed and be talented regardless if they are a sinner or saint.  Explain to the naysayers, we follow Scripture by the leading of grace and love not law.  If a doctrine teaches law for one Scripture, then all Scriptures must be followed and this is the very same reason Jesus came, to fulfill the law because He knew we couldn’t obey every Scripture.  Scripture was given not to punish us of sin, but to reflect how dirty we truly are in the need of a Savior to fulfill what we could not.  This doesn’t give us the right to sin and disobey Scripture but however through Jesus it gives us the right to have freedom to choose grace over law.  Religion must use law to empower itself and control the people who need in order to survive.  Religion is about having the right answers but relationship with Jesus is about the process that takes us to live the answer, changing on the inside and producing love on the outside.  The love of Jesus is alive, dynamic and full of life with possibility but religious pharisee’s words are dead, full of law, fear, judgment and condemnation to line up to a certain doctrine along with self-exaltation and spiritual pride.  Some churches grow from social parties or religious fear from the law.  Other churches grow out of a relationship for the love of Jesus Christ and being a disciple and living out the process of love to others.

When others come against me in what I believe, I smile and know Jesus is with me.  I am assured of His Words and His Spirit that is within me.  I am peaceful to know He is ushering me to display His love not condemnation.  When people think they should pray for me to change in a way they think I should live or obey their certain sect of Scriptures they use for their doctrine, I smile and tell them to pray “The Father’s will be done in my life, and let God be God over me” and nothing more.  I have said this more than once, God doesn’t give us responsibility but ability to respond and our response is to be free to love and serve God in every situation.  I choose the freedom to love verses the follow law which results in failure every time.  When the timing is right, those “religious” people who may portray law on the outside, the inside comes out through their mouth or their actions and love is not one of them.  Who will they run to?  They will run to those who know the love of Jesus Christ and display His fruit, those who have a relationship with the daddy of all.  This is true discipleship in loving your neighbor.

Acts 5:38-42  And so my advice is, leave these men alone.  If what they teach and do is on their own, it will soon be overthrown.  But if it is of God, you will not be able to stop them, lest you find yourselves fighting even against God.  The Council accepted his advice, called in the apostles, had them beaten and then told them never again to speak in the name of Jesus, and finally let them go.  They left rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer shame for his name.  And every day they continued to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

Pictured: Carlee Knight from Bremen Kentucky.  Melissa Phillips Photography

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