Growing up I believed God wanted me to let others do to me whatever they would do. I thought this text, and others like it, were trying to tell me to kowtow to the needs of others at the exclusion of my own needs. But now I understand this differently.
When Jesus suggests that we offer the other cheek, it’s not to say we should allow ourselves to be abused. To offer the other cheek was a way of saying that we are equals with those striking out – that we will not raise our own hand against them – that we will stand toe to toe with them. Jesus would never ask us to step into situations where we are abused, where we are expected to allow, encourage, or endure abuse. Jesus believes we are worthy of being treated as well as anyone else on the planet. We are worthy of love. We are worthy of living without abuse or suffering. We are worthy of standing toe to toe with anyone we encounter – equals, and worthy of power and voice.
“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.