Matthew 5:38-42 38“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
I woke up this morning thinking about going the second mile. When I looked up the verse I was stuck by its context and by how unlike our typical thinking it is. This is a whole different mindset – a different world view. It is seeing and responding to things so differently.
An old classic movie comes to mind that illustrates how radically different things can be seen and how things sometime aren’t what they seem. That movie is the Wizard of Oz. It begins and ends as a black and white movie. I remember as a boy seeing it and being so stunned when Dorothy wakes up in Oz and everything is in full ‘living’ color. The richness of the color versus the paucity of the black and white – they don’t change the story line, just what we’re seeing. Then there is the ogre-like Wizard who is so authoritarian on the screen, but in reality is a little old man behind the curtain. Here, what is perceived is very different from its true reality.
I would suggest that the situations described in these verses are like the Wizard up on the screen – their reality is very different than how we tend to perceive them. We typically respond to them as threats (like the ogre on the screen), rather than as opportunities. Our viewpoint is one of self and cultural orientation, and we react accordingly. It’s like living in ‘black and white’.
But Jesus wants us to perceive these as opportunities and not as threats – and we must recognize how critical our perception is to the process. It’s not about us but it’s all about Him. It’s not about reacting but responding with faith. They are opportunities to glorify our God in how we respond – or not. Our lives are to be salt and light in the world and reflect the ‘living color’ of the life of Christ. What a contrast!
Jesus wants our perceptions, understanding and responses rooted in His Kingdom – not in the world. In this world we tend to react rather than respond. We look out for ourselves rather than be guided by His ways. Life is filled with opportunities for us to respond wisely, reflecting His life within us. We need to remind ourselves just how different a citizen of His Kingdom is from one of this world. The people around us will be drawn to Him by seeing us live such lives.