After struggling for some time with the meaning of Christ’s words in Matthew 5:39, “Resist not an evil man” I finally came to realize that they meant, “Resist not an evil man.” I had always understood the words but now I was shocked at the way I had understood them. It is no mystery that at the very core of Christ’s message is love toward all men, to turn the other cheek, and to avoid judging your neighbor. Why the obscurity? Why was I searching for a meaning when it was so simple? With these words the essence of Christ’s Gospel is laid bare and made simple. They mean never do violence to any man, never do anything contrary to love, even to your enemies.
The obscurity and darkness come in when we are taught that fulfilling this command is impossible and that we cannot do it in our own strength. If I were to ask one of my employees to go and do a difficult job and he replied that he could not do it in his own strength or that he would need some supernatural assistance I would assume one of two things, either he did not believe me and take my words seriously, or that he did not want to do the thing I ask. Consider, that God has given us commands which we are to perform and of these commands He says that “Whoso ever does these and teaches men to do them shall be called great” –– of which He said that only those who do it shall receive eternal life. This command He expressed so clearly and simply, of which there is no doubt to its meaning. This “obscure” command I had never even tried to obey I said was too hard and even impossible to keep in my own strength. Christ came down and gave commands for us to obey, commands of which He says, “My yoke is easy and My burden light.” Christ obeyed these commands Himself and says, “Follow Me.”
The strength of our faith comes from obedience, do what I say He commands, then you will know about the strength necessary to accomplish My words. Our faith is contingent upon our will to obey. John 7:17 says, “Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” So, how could I say that it was too hard for me to “Resist not an evil person”? Either, I have no trust in the Master’s words or I just don’t want to obey this command. As soon as the command is mentioned all the commentators come forth with their volumes to itemize the plethora of details explaining why the keeping of this command is impossible, when none of them has even tried to keep it.
This command to resist not an evil person is at the very core of the command to love unreservedly all of mankind, including our enemies.
With the understanding of this command my whole theology was exploded and when the pieces began to fall a new picture of Jesus emerged and a beautiful tapestry of love, mercy, and forgiveness was brought forth. The effect of Jesus forgiving those who had tortured and murdered Him while in the throes of agony and great pain, is peace, light, and love. What should have been so easy to see was obscured by selfishness, love of the world, and the faulty teaching of the Church. Christ’s command to the Church to go back and do its “first works” over again was the solution that got my attention, and it is your solution also; it was a real eye opener.