BY: NOAH CHO
We’ve all heard it before. For some, it’s, “Be the better person.” For others, it’s, “Just let it go.”
All of us, Christian or not, are all too familiar with the famous line: turn the other cheek. In Matthew 5 Jesus says, “You have heard it said, ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth. But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”
This verse is thrown around in the Christian bank of “verses everyone knows,” probably somewhere between John 3:16 and Genesis 1:1. However, do we know what this really means? And if so, are Christians living out this kind of life?
Let’s first look at the world that we live in. Looking at it from this viewpoint, it is fairly easy to understand: If someone wrongs you, forgive him or her. BUT (and our world always seems to be filled with “buts,” “howevers,” and “only ifs”) there are exceptions. What if someone comes and totals your car? You better pick up some insurance money from that driver. After all, it’s the “right” thing to do.
What if we were to go even further? Let’s imagine that someone came and raped and murdered your family. That despicable, disgusting man better end up executed or imprisoned for life, and he most certainly will be. Why? Because, again, it’s the “right” thing according to our legal system.
As a Christian, I can say that we consequently sometimes think of ourselves as better than others. Christians have no problem forgiving others as every churchgoer has learned from Colossians to “forgive as the Lord has forgiven us.” That inspiring story of the man forgiving that murderer, or the mother forgiving the pedophile who defiled her son are well known stories in sermons and in church. If I ever need to tell someone about how much grace Christians have to offer, I have no problem diving into a touching and dramatic story about forgiveness, grace, and looking forward to the future.
For me, I am:
1. A Christian and
2. Living in this world.
Adding together 1 and 2, this should definitely mean that I am fully capable of being a very forgiving person.
Not quite. Let’s look to the other extreme. Not those wrongdoings that make you gasp in horror, but the ones that you brush off as if they are nothing. Gossip, slander, hatred. These are all emotions and behaviors that are “normal” for a human to have.
For example, if someone says that you are obnoxious behind your back, it is only natural to return to your apartment or dorm and to tell your roommate about how infuriated you are, and then proceed to tear down that person by saying how evil he is for slandering you.
In James 2:10, it is written, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” Not turning you cheek is the same offense, no matter how extreme it might be.
What do we do then? It is only natural to snap at someone who calls you ugly, swear at the driver that cut you off, or gossip about your messy roommate. We all know how to forgive in these situations Just let that comment go. Take a deep breath and move on. “Be the better man.”
But if we look back to the verse from Matthew 5, it says right after, “And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.” Jesus doesn’t want us to just forgive those who have wronged us, but wants us to love them as well.
In the world’s eyes, this is ridiculous. However, what’s even more ridiculous is going out of our way to forgive those who have wronged us for minor offenses. To forgive those who called us fat behind our backs, or to befriend that one guy at the gym who won’t stop fouling you during basketball. Paul writes in Romans, “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Christians were never meant to be “cool” in this world. A common phrase that’s thrown around in the church is that Christians are “in the world but not of the world,” implying that yes while we exist, social norms were never meant to apply to us. I am not saying that we always live this way, but we need to try.
Christians, like each and every other human being on this planet, are going to be confronted with adversity every day. While we might not have our house burned down by arsonists every day, there definitely will be that person that gives you a disgustingly inappropriate look on the street or the person that looks at you and then whispers to her friend. What separates us from the world is not if we encounter these small problems, but how we deal with them.
Now here comes the real kicker: As Christians, we are to not only forgive, but to love. Not to let go, but to reach out to the lost. We are to forgive and love on those who wrong us in every possible way and while this is uncomfortable, we as Christians are going to be uncomfortable. Throughout this entire piece, I constantly gave examples, many of which are very dramatic, about forgiveness. But, as ludicrous as these examples are, we are expected to go even further. We are not to just forgive someone who has emotionally scarred us, but we are to wish the best for him and truly rejoice when they are doing well and this, more than anything, is uncomfortable, but also one of the clearest examples of the love that we as Christians believe that Christ showed to us.
My very wise small group leader told me, “A Christian not in conflict with the world is far too comfortable.” Let’s show the world just how uncomfortable we can get.
 Matthew 5:38-39 (NIV)
 Colossians 3:13 (NIV)
 James 2:10 (NIV)
 Matthew 5:40 (NIV)
 Romans 12:2 (NIV)