intensely trivial

Jesus on self-defense

“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 someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

— Jesus (Matthew 5:38-42)

This text was the centerpiece of today’s teaching at church. “Challenging” doesn’t even begin to describe its effect on me. Todd pointed out that this teaching doesn’t promote pacifism, although I think it could be a good basis for pacifism (not gonna go there right now 🙂 ). Anyway, what Jesus was saying was, and still is, mind-blowingly revolutionary. Here’s what I was floored with from sitting in the presence of these instructions for a while: Jesus was saying that we need to stop defending ourselves and our rights. Stop defending our own honor. Stop defending our own comfort. Stop defending our own convenience. Stop defending our own possessions.
And then here’s the second thing that really floors me: Jesus lived that way. Jesus did not live a life of defending himself or jealously guarding his possessions. (Obviously, he didn’t die that way, either.) There are some instances when he sought rest and time alone, but the overwhelming testimony of his life was one of unselfishness.
That is really attractive to me. That makes Jesus beautiful to me. I wantto follow a person like that. I want to partake in a life like that. When we celebrated the Lord’s Supper after meditating on that teaching of Jesus, I thought, “I’m not very good at living unselfishly, but I am going to drink to this Jesus, and this Jesus I want to follow.”
You know (I’m going to admit something here that’s really unorthodox), I’ve always wondered if I really love Jesus. People say it all the time in prayers or whatever, “Lord, we love you.” Or “I love Jesus!” Well, I’ve spent a long time not being sure whether I love him as much as I should, or as well as I should. I don’t always feel like I love him. I don’t always feel my heart leap with joy at the sound of the name of Jesus.
But this Jesus — the guru who taught and then lived a life of revolutionary love — to me, he is a magnetic Messiah. I will never be exactly like him, but I do love him, and I want to be his disciple.


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