Ask Ivor

Marco asks:

"What about this 'Turn the other cheek' business? Does anybody but Jesus really do it?"

Does anybody do it? Sure. People not only turn their other cheek, they lay down their lives. Look, for example, at Polycarp, Perpetua, Felicitas, John Hus, Michael and Margaretha Sattler, Martin Luther King Jr., Oscar Romero....

Do all followers of Jesus turn the other cheek? Definitely not. Jesus had to rebuke his own apostles for wanting to call down fire from heaven upon some inhospitable villagers (Lk 9:51-56), and we're all familiar with things like the Crusades and the Inquisition, not to mention the fallibility and weakness of every individual Christian—"there is no one righteous, not even one" (Ro 3:10).

Jesus' instructions, to love our enemies, pray for those who mistreat us, not resist an evil person but turn the other cheek, give up both our cloak and our tunic, go the second mile, give to those who ask of us without expecting repayment, and do to others as we would have them do to us (Mt 5:38-48; Lk 6:27-35), cannot be separated from Jesus' explanation that "The Most High... is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful" (Lk 6:35-36).

To even begin to follow the instructions Jesus gives, it is necessary to first recognize God's character, and to appreciate how many times he has already turned his cheek, for each of us.