Turning The Other Cheek

Jesus spoke a lot of powerful words, one of the most memorable being that we should turn the other cheek if struck on the face. It is interpreted that Christians should not retaliate if subjected to violent or hurtful acts. It doesn’t have to mean actually being struck, it could be vicious words or actions. It was an about turn from the ‘eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth’ teaching of the Old Testament. He brought a new message and largely ripped up the rule book that 1st Century Jews lived by.

Last week I was running (very slowly) through the village when I saw a woman walking towards me. I used to be very good friends with a member of her family until that friendship broke down. The deterioration of that friendship was as much my fault as the other persons. It was all part of the process that led me to walk away from the church with a bitter taste in my mouth regarding Christians and organised religion. I’d learnt the hard way. Not all of them practice what they preach.

As I approached this woman I wasn’t particularly comfortable but decided I would ‘pass myself’ by saying hello to her. I never pass anyone without, at the very least, nodding a greeting. It’s what people in rural Northern Ireland do, or at least I thought so. I looked at the woman as I jogged past and was astonished to watch her turn her head away and deliberately avoid eye contact with me. I plodded past, too stunned to even react to this most blatant of snubs.

I’m sure this supposedly Christian lady knows the Bible verse in question as well as I do, but by literally turning her cheek on me she might as well have slapped mine. I was hurt and writing this post is a form of therapy for me. What did I do to deserve such a blatant rebuke? Was I that bad of a person? What has been said about me? What is being said about me? My mind was flooded with doubts and paranoid thoughts. And above all else, it fuelled my distrust and resentment towards the card carrying Christian community.

There’s no real conclusion to this post but Fionnuala told me a similar story soon afterwards about another former member of the church in question being publicly snubbed by its members. Jesus taught humility and inclusion not ostracising and condemnation. The Good Samaritan? The woman about to be stoned for adulterous? The lepers, tax collectors, the social outcasts he gathered around him. It’s hard to turn the other cheek when faced with such hypocrisy and sanctimony.

Published by Fractured Faith Blog

We are Stephen and Fionnuala and this is our story. We live in Northern Ireland, have been married for 17 years and have three kids - Adam, Hannah and Rebecca. We hope that our story will inspire and encourage others. We have walked a rocky road yet here we are today, together and stronger than ever. We are far from perfect and our faith has been battered and bruised. But an untested faith is a pointless faith. Just as a fractured faith is better than none at all. We hope you enjoy the blog.

36 thoughts on “Turning The Other Cheek

  1. Doesn’t it amaze you how a snub or remark from such a petty, inconsequential person can totally deflate you and have you ruminating about it for hours (speaking from experience)? Although my life is filled with accomplishments and kudos (also, a lot of boring crap LOL) I used to be so affected by any slight. I mentioned a little book in a previous comment that changed so much of my life; the author wrote that no-one was really thinking about me other than at that moment. That gave me the courage (or maybe stupidity) to laugh outright at whatever slight was tossed my way (luckily it was never one of my bosses). A satisfying and disarming reaction.

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  2. It is so sad how we bind ourselves up by holding on to offenses that are not even ours. I have a friend who had taken up an offense for her husband when another Christian brother offended him. She was really beginning to come under the control of bitterness…meanwhile her husband had forgiven and moved on. Finally he had to sit her down and explain to her she just needed to let it go because it was not her offense. We get ourselves so twisted up about things that are not our business. This poor lady you passed on the street sounds like she has wounded herself unnecessarily and is bearing the marks of that wound in her life.

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  3. Now imagine Jesus perspective, when He had experienced much worst.
    We tend to forget humanity as a whole, whether believer or nonbeliever, we all have sin nature.
    And the truth is, when we are hurt it takes years before the person can learn to forgive.
    Although, much like you I am disappointed by the hypocrisy of Christians. I just have to surrender it to God to do the heartwork.
    The heart carries much we try to hide, but we cannot deny our automatic response to negativity and negative memories that are triggered by situations or people or things.
    We are all broken.

    Happy New Year!

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  4. I used to say that Jesus would roll over in his grave (except that he isn’t still in it!) at the actions of people who say they follow him; at the actions of churches which are named after him. But I don’t say that any more. Jesus went to the cross because of people like that… because of people like us; people who are in the church but still not finished becoming what God desires us to be. Jesus went to the cross so that we all might die to sin and rise to new life. And not a one of us has done that yet, so we are still in this life, falling short, getting it wrong more often than not, missing the mark of living like Jesus. Today, while listening to a recording of Fr Vincent Pizzuto, I was struck by his statement “The cross is the judgment of judgment.” Oh how I wish that were already accomplished. You deserve an apology, but I won’t hold my breath that you will get it from the ‘christian’ who snubbed you, so I, as a pastor, will officially give you the apology you deserve. You were wronged and I am sorry. You deserve better than that. I pledge to work in my church ever more vigorously to preach and teach the cross as the antidote to a judgmental spirit. It may not reach all the way over to Northern Ireland, but then again, it might. With God, nothing is impossible.

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  5. I think there’s a difference between retaliation and explanation, and in many of the churches I’ve (tried) to attend across the pond, they’re both treated as retaliation. The thought seems to be that you should just turn the other cheek, not explain why being hit hurt you.

    But being outside of a church gives you a different perspective, doesn’t it? An explanation could clear things up, or at the very least put the issue to rest, something that many Christians seem to think is incompatible with turning the other cheek. It’s as though the spirit of hypocrisy gets there first and muddles the whole thing up, so by the time any of that good ole inclusion or humility shows it’s too late. The judgement’s been made.

    And now I’m left scratching my head with how to end this comment. You’re right, there really is no satisfying conclusion.

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  6. Please remember that a church is a hospital for healing sinners. As Martin Luther said, we want everyone to be nice & treat us well, to want heaven on earth. In my opinion, to totally reject Christians & the church is to declare oneself superior morally & on a higher plant of morality than the usual Christian. We are exhorted by Apostle Paul to bear with those who are weaker in faith.

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  7. You don’t know what she was going through at that precise moment. Maybe she was suffering some terrible depression or grieving & she wasn’t able to acknowledge you.

    Perhaps the next time she sees you, she’ll make amends for walking by you that day.

    But maybe it was a snub & if it was, so be it.

    I remember hearing in AA that what other people think about us is none of our business & that’s tremendously freeing, ya know.

    All you can do is send a prayer her way. & then let it go.

    hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Stephen. I confess that I have less than pastoral thoughts when I read or hear of an account such as you have shared. If only those judgmental self-righteous individuals would only consider the importance of the name Christian they supposedly wear.
    It also tears at my heart when good, straight shooting people such as yourself and your family have been so poorly treated by those who claim to be Christian. Please know that there are some genuine followers of Christ out there. As one of these, allow me to encourage you to continue to read the Bible. The God I found there cares so much more about our personal relationship with Him than He does the organized church.
    Be well and stay safe,
    Chuck

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  9. Oh damn. You know the Bible talks about shunning, so that you might repent and return. It is so cruel! It hurts, even if you don’t want to have communication. Im so sorry this happened to you. ❤️

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  10. Well, looks like God blessed you with the discernment to walk away from that church and have the grace to acknowledge those that disappointed you. This is not about you but more the lack of faith of that membership. You handled it well but don’t give power to her faithlessness by questioning yourself. Pray for her soul, forgive her and move forward with your head held upward.

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  11. I’m sorry you had such an experience! I promise you that Jesus feels as you do about such people who think they are better because of their religion. Honestly, as a Christian myself, I’m appalled by such ungodly and unloving behavior which doesn’t reflect the love of God at all. I’ve had my own experiences with religious people and they do indeed differ from those who truly love God and people over “pious” appearances. Hence the Pharisees who were of the same mold. Peace brother.

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  12. I’m sorry you had that experience. It has given me a thought that you might get something out of the book I’m currently reading, “11 Days” by Mark Holloway, author of “The Freedom Diaries”. A New Zealand author, not super widely published, but I’m finding it a great read. It’s about engaging in back and forth conversations with God, in writing, or out loud, or in our head, and there is a lot of discussion around exactly the point you make here: when did religion jump the curb and skew God’s message, the one about hope, and outpouring love and kindness?

    In other news, I’m looking forward to cracking open The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles No. 2 this weekend 😁

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