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Cheeky Superiors

Greetings from Uganda, an African country on the equator, and a land of lush opportunity. It also has starving leaders, a remnant of whom have a vision to make change. This current Bible training course is a mix that could be best described in the Apostle John’s words: “Many of Jesus disciples complained, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?” Jesus said, “Does this offend you? Some of you do not believe Me.” At this point many of His disciples deserted Him. Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” (John 6:60-67 edited)  There are people who are unhappy with their life, but not willing to exert energy to make a change. It encourages me to realize that even Jesus lost ‘church members’ from His congregation. But the remnant that was left changed the world! I’m rejoicing to be here with a small but strong remnant!

I have a friend who has a strong dislike for the Apostle Paul. He maintains that Paul contradicts Jesus. That is a great stimulant for us to have some deep discussions! But what he hasn’t discovered yet is that Jesus contradicts Himself.

Cheeky SuperiorsHave you noticed that Jesus preached “turn the other cheek” but at His trial He didn’t do that? An interesting contradiction! In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus preached: if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other one too.” (Matt 5:39) At His trail one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand” (John 18:22) but Jesus didn’t turn his other cheek!

If you think that might be a contradiction, it is because you’ve missed one small, but very important, detail in the text. Jesus doesn’t say “if someone slaps you on the cheek, turn the other cheek.” He said specifically the right cheek. In other words, if someone slaps you on the left cheek, you don’t have to turn the other cheek. Why?

Let’s imagine you and I having an argument and I lose my cool and slap your face. As a right handed person (the preferred hand in most cultures) I would automatically strike your left cheek. When the Bible speaks of a hand, it is assuming the right hand. For me to slap your right cheek would mean that I would use my left hand or have to maneuver my right hand across in front of me so that I would be back-handing you. In many cultures, the left hand is the ‘poopoo’ hand. It is not the normal hand of discourse.

This is where a common, cross cultural body language gesture is being used. Slapping your left cheek indicates my displeasure with you. Slapping your right cheek communicates my feeling of superiority over you. This is a derogatory slap. It says: “We are not two human beings made in the image of God. I am superior to you!” But if you turn your left cheek in response, you are saying: “If you are going to hit me, hit me as human to human. Acknowledge that I am human.”

At His trial, when an officer slapped Jesus on the cheek, obviously it was His left cheek. Rather than turning the other cheek He asked, “Why did you do that? If I said something wrong, then tell me.” In a manner that respected the dignity of the other person, and consistent with truly loving him, He resisted anger and still loved the person. A seeming contradiction is explained.

Now, getting back to my friend who maintains that Paul contradicts Jesus. He’s built his conjecture on hearsay, but hasn’t researched how many contradictions there are (there are supposedly 32 but don’t tell him that I’ve researched them! 🙂 and all are readily explained like the above! Would you like a copy?

May you be blessed with the realization that no circumstance can take you from your specific creation by God. … john (Isa 49:5)


(original post May 24, 2015)


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