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Jesus models how to gain influence without striking back or withholding. 

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38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic,  let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. – Matthew 5:38-42

 

Our culture tells us to desire power and influence. We want power to cause things to happen and influence to change unfortunate situations into desirable ones. In this season, we even desire a leader to lead us with power and influence into a free world. Yet, as followers of Jesus, we contrast these desires with what Jesus says. Jesus gives four examples of where power and influence appear to be cast aside – when struck, he says to turn the other cheek; when sued, he says to give more; when told to march, we are to double the distance; when someone begs, we give or lend without regard to the person’s position.

Jesus’ direction seems to demonstrate a lack of power or influence. But, maybe not? Being struck on the right cheek indicates a blow by the back of the hand – the way a slave would have been struck. By turning the other cheek and not retaliating actually shows which person is really in control (or having influence) – the one struck. By giving one’s cloak as well as one’s tunic away in the courtroom would leave the person naked and perhaps embarrassed, but actually sheds light on the injustice of the scene, thus giving influence to the naked person.

Jesus is counter-cultural. His ministry demonstrated this fact all the time: talking, eating, and celebrating with the ‘wrong’ crowd, for example. Here, we have four lessons on being counter-cultural and learning to do what is least expected. In doing so, we are able to influence those around us by choosing a subversive way. This actually puts us in a position to be listened to and opens hearts to hear the Good News. Yet, this is a difficult task – it requires patience, risk and self-control. As you reread the passage today – write down the four examples Jesus uses and how each gains influence without striking back or withholding. Choose the one which speaks loudest to you and pray for God’s help to implement it this week.

 

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’
39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil.
But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic,  let him have your cloak as well.
41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
– Matthew 5:38-42

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By Rich Obrecht

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