Matthew 5:38-48

What does it mean to turn the other cheek? We can get so caught up in giving examples of extreme situations where turning the other cheek doesn't benefit anyone we miss the point. We have to look at this being given in the realm of empire. Where a country has wanted to expand its territory in order to rule over as many people as possible. God's kingdom is not like this. Here is the difference. In order to fulfill the law, because remember Jesus is telling us how to fulfill the law we must turn the other cheek. Could it be something more simple?

Remember in the days of empire their soldiers can make you do anything the empire wants you to. They can take your possessions, your crops, your extra food, clothes anything they want for the empire. I'm sure under this strain of day to day living people got afraid, and not only afraid but stressed. This would come out in petty arguments with your neighbor, because you could say to them what you wanted, but not to Rome. So maybe turning the other cheek is in the day to day living together in order to come together. To value the relationships in community for the sake of the community.

There are extreme stories, like ImmaculĂ©e Ilibagiza who is a Tutsi and survived the Rwandan genocide and then forgave those who killed her family, even her own brother, which she heard inside the hiding place. She forgave for the sake of community, for peace. Because picking up the violence would only lead to more. There are also smaller examples, like our Downtown Churches who have decided that our focus is not on the individual beliefs and doctrines, but on Jesus as our common bond. This has been put to the test when one of the churches decided a split in doctrine between their church and the Episcopal church led them to leave our fellowship. Others did not follow because of the belief we have Jesus at our head no matter what we believe.

Maybe turning the other cheek is simply changing our focus. With all the yelling and stressing of my way is only right that goes on in the news these days turning the other cheek could be shutting up and listening. Listening doesn't mean agreement, listening means respect for the relationship we have with one another, even if we don't change minds. Listening means realizing our common bonds and there is too little of this taking place.

There has been a movement, at least I've been observing it this week, of focusing on our common bonds. There have been stories of people coming together to do incredible things. Some have rescued animals that have been stuck, some have danced together all over there world. Ever color, shape, belief coming together to dance. Another has been in setting a table in the middle of a busy apartment building and inviting all on the floor to sup together.

For Thistle Farms it is in promoting a week with random acts of kindness. These are to be shared with the community, much like our old salt and light book. Random acts of kindness turn the other cheek. They make us look at one another, really look. Not to see what the media or anyone else wants us to see. To really see one another and our common shared experience in living. Something as simple as a note, something as extravagant as paying someone's bill. All these can help us to turn a cheek and remember our connectedness to one another in community.

Its not too late to participate in this. It will make a difference in how we see and interact with the world. Do some random acts of kindness and look for your heart to heal. Be lifted above our differences and learn to recognize God's hand in the world.