Going the second mile was as radical then as it is now.
by Dr. Marcus Warner for ReSermon.com, Marcus@DeeperWalkInternational.org
The following is excerpted and edited from a sermon series, “Living Right In a World Gone Wrong: Deep in the Walk” by Dr. Marcus Warner, President of Deeper Walk International, an Indianapolis-based ministry (http://www.deeperwalkinternational.com). Dr. Warner delivered this sermon on February 14, 2016 at Pathway Community Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana. To see or hear Dr. Warner’s sermon in its entirety, click here. For more information about Dr. Warner or Deeper Walk International, click here.
American biblical illiteracy is well documented, and the ministry that I lead, Deeper Walk International, is committed to helping advance biblical literacy living the Christian life in the spirit, not by the flesh. Matthew chapter 5 provides some key insights about the vision that Jesus laid out for the lives of his followers and we overlook this passage at our peril.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 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. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. – Jesus Christ, recorded in Matthew 5:38-42
Mahatma Gandhi, the early 20th century leader of India’s non-violent independence campaign against then-British rule, did not get his ideas for non-violence from Hinduism, but from Jesus Christ. Ghandi said, “It isn't passive resistance, it's non-violent resistance." Thanks to the teaching of Jesus, Ghandi realized that it takes more courage to live non-violently than violently, the natural fleshly reaction that we all have.
The concept of eye for eye and tooth for tooth is derived from the law of Moses, but some perspective is needed. Bad character and its choices must result in consequences. If I get into a fight and I knock somebody's tooth out, a civil society cannot let that go unpunished. But any student of world history knows that every society tends to not settle for justice, but seek revenge.
If you hurt an important person, or the son or wife of an important person, it’s even worse. You can expect an ill-proportionate reaction. Even if you hurt an average Joe on the street, you would probably risk retribution from his clan. Often, the punishment didn't fit the crime.
We struggle with the same thing today. How many times do people get more years in prison than what they deserve? It happens a lot, even right here in our country. Proportionality is the key to a good criminal justice system that is trusted by its citizens as focused on justice, not revenge or retribution.
Jesus says, "I tell you, don't resist an evil person. Turn the other cheek. Go the second mile." This is not something we do naturally. Rather, this is something we can only do supernaturally, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and it is something that we need to practice often. It's not like you will suddenly develop the resilience of a man like Gandhi one day if you haven't been practicing this along the way.
By English: Cpl Erik Villagran [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons