At first look, these teachings of Christ seem to look like weakness – carrying the luggage of another for an extra mile, turning the other cheek, not taking revenge. These are the basic rules of how humans live life, right? If you hit me I will hit you back; I will only do what is required of me, I will get you back. This is how we guard our dignity … right? Somehow this way of thinking has not worked, because we have been living the same way for thousands of years, but we are not more dignified as humans.
These teachings of Christ take more strength. This is not weakness. I keep my word and don’t need a vow. This doesn’t mean I can’t sign a mortgage; it means I never speak without thinking, I don’t promise before praying, and I make sure I keep my word even when it hurts. I can turn the other cheek – not meaning I invite abuse or shouldn’t block the next blow – but meaning that I am stronger than the one seeking to hurt me. I can go the extra mile – because I have a deeper strength that goes beyond requirements. All of these things shock the world, and most people (even Christians) have so seldom lived these teachings out. When we do – the world radically takes notice – like Martin Luther King w0rking against injustice not with violence, but by accepting beatings in love – and showing the true evil face of racism. The world changes in this strength.
No one had taught these things before Jesus, and few have lived them out since. May that be the challenge for our lives, as Christians.