“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two.”
This, for many, is a tough saying from Jesus the Christ, a difficult commandment to follow as it goes against our natural reaction and our socialization. We live in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” We have the right to speak freely and so we don’t hold our tongue or bite it. We have the right to bear arms and thus to defend ourselves in the event of an attack. We have the right to due process of law and if we cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed to us. So, what are we to make of Jesus’ words?
They are countercultural. They go against the grain, against all that we have been taught, against all that we believe, against all that we have ever seen. But, His words are true as they are the way of the Kingdom of God. Jesus did not speak as a member of society but of divinity. He did not put on flesh to be ensnared by it or because He wanted to be aligned with it. He didn’t put it on so that He might become one of us as if to make up for some experience or expression that His divine identity lacked. He put it on to walk among us, to live with us and to die for us. He had to be put to death in the flesh (I Peter 3.18). And when He rose, He took off the flesh. The flesh always served His purpose and not vice versa.
Consequently, if we are to run with Jesus Christ, we will have to live a life that is not supportive of the will of the flesh. If we are to run with Jesus Christ, we will have to go the extra mile. We will have to give up our position of being right and do right even when we are being wronged. We will have to do more even when less is being done for us. We will have to go longer and stronger even if it is not in the direction that we would like to go. Jesus demonstrated this on His way to Calvary’s cross. He was slapped, his garments taken and He was forced to go the extra mile as it was not His will but the will of His Father (Luke 22.42).
We will have to go the extra mile in the race-less life, giving up the position of victim as we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus (Romans 8.37). Jesus never said that He was a victim of our sins. He never blamed us for His death on the cross. He never walked away from His death though undeserved. He didn’t ask for an apology from those who had wronged Him but He did forgive them. Likewise, we will also have to forgive when an apology has not been given. We will have to continue to open ourselves up to the possibility of rejection as we go the extra mile in forming new relathionships across cultures. No, we haven’t seen it done but we know Someone who has done it. And I know that we’re not perfect, that we are not Jesus Christ but we are His disciples. I challenge you to be Christ-like today and go the extra mile.