One of my favourite parables in the Bible is when Jesus says to turn the other cheek. What does that mean exactly? In writing my newest novel, Virulent, it’s been a subject of thought for me, so I thought I’d dig below the surface to find what it truly means.
So what did Jesus mean when He said to turn the other cheek, or run a hundred miles when your enemy asked for ten? To turn the other cheek means to sacrifice yourself for your enemy. To give your service and love to them, even when they beat you and tear you down.
This last Thursday I went to see the film Unbroken with a friend. Though it was brutal at times, it was exceptionally powerful. The main character, who was an Olympic athlete, was beaten hundreds of times by Japanese soldiers and put through the worse things a man could experience, yet in the end he went back to Japan just to forgive them. At the end of the film there’s a real life flashback where we see Louis, who hadn’t taken up running since his ordeal, run once again for the first time through the streets of Japan, and it inspired me beyond words.
Another story I remember hearing was that of a young slave. His master beat him mercilessly eventually throwing his boot at his head, causing bleeding and injury. In the morning he found the slave cleaning and polishing that very same boot.
That’s what it means to turn the other cheek. To give your enemy, not an advantage, but conviction. Humble love.
Far too much I see Christians hold a grudge against their enemies and abandoning them. We use the excuse “They’re not a good influence for our Christian walk.” If your enemy can weaken your faith, something’s wrong. The Christian walk doesn’t work that way. It’s not them influencing us, it’s us influencing them. It’s showing them the love of Jesus who was scourged and crucified to forgive us and buy us our eternal salvation. If anyone knew how to turn the other cheek, it was Jesus.
It’s easy to walk away, but when is love ever easy? It’s safe to abandon those we call our enemies, but when is love ever safe? We need more Louis Zamperini’s in the world. The ones who are truly courageous in their Christian walk. The ones who face their enemies with an open hand.
If we let our enemies fall, aren’t we also leaving Jesus on that cross? If we lift our enemies from the rubble, aren’t we also celebrating in the resurrection of Christ? Everyone should be included in our salvation, so why don’t we open those doors and let them in?