On turning the other cheek

Published 9:56 am Thursday, June 2, 2022

By MICHAEL J. BROOKS | Guest Columnist

It was the slap heard ‘round the world when actor Will Smith assaulted comedian Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards.

The move was so unexpected that many thought it was part of the comedy routine.

The incident reminded me of the first time I can remember being threatened with assault. His name was Pete–the neighborhood bully. He accosted me one day when my sister and I walked home from grammar school.

He called me names and said the next time he found me on the streets, he was going to beat me up. Pete was older and in a higher grade than me. I was afraid.

This incident brought a serious talk with my older brother.

He told me, “you can’t let people push you around like this.” I remember he quoted Franklin Roosevelt, who said the only thing we had to fear was fear itself. I think this may have been the seminal moment of my later love for presidential history!

I don’t remember seeing Pete again, but I’ve thought about how I’d like to meet Pete again. I viewed enough “Walker Texas Ranger” that I think I could perform a spinning back kick!

But isn’t a Christian supposed to turn the other cheek? Yes, Jesus’s words are clear. His point is about how we treat those who do evil to us. Rather than responding in kind, we do good, say good and pray. We return good for evil rather than perpetuating evil, we bless them with healing words and we pray for them.

But on the other hand, we’ve learned in recent years about boundaries. We cannot let evil people continue to hurt others in person or through social media. Abusers have to be stopped..

The Apostle Paul was about to be beaten when he told the Roman soldiers they couldn’t do this since he had citizenship in the empire (Acts 22: 25). He very appropriately enforced boundaries to protect himself in that instance.

It’s never appropriate for bullies to take advantage of the defenseless. People of goodwill must stand with the weak, protect them and declare to the bullies that this conduct won’t be tolerated.

Reflections is a weekly devotional feature written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church, Alabaster, Alabama. The church’s website is Siluriabaptist.com.