But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. (Matthew 5:39-40)
Christ was constantly saying things that were entirely out of order. If you want to keep living, I’ve been in your life. If someone slapped you across the face, offer them your other cheek. If you want to truly be rich, give everything away.
None of Christ’s teachings were more out of order, more backwards, than the Beatitudes: the rapid, shocking introduction of his infamous sermon on the mount. Massive crowds had gathered around Jesus, and He has been out touching and healing the leper’s puss-filled sores and crusted, scabby eyes of those had never seen a sunset or the hand of those dropping a few coins in their cup. He has spent His day with the rejects and the outcasts.
Most of the religious power-holders recoiled with disgust as Jesus embrace the unclean in their filth. Some adored his actions, assuming they were patronizing acts of piety. Whatever distain they harbored, it provided no opportunity to prepare them for the subversive words of Christ would speak: blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
And as if He hadn’t said enough, He didn’t stop there. The Beatitudes continue with Jesus’ announcement that it is not only the poor, but also the emotional wrecks, the weak and the routinely dismissed who are truly blessed. The helpless who are constantly stepped on and abuse receive all the luxuries of the kingdom of God.
Jesus lives in a backwards world. But, if we are honest, this is good news. This is the Gospel. We are all poor in spirit. We are all weak and helpless. And if we embrace it, we find ourselves knee-deep in redemption, smothered in hope and freedom. Blessed are those who have flunked out, boozed out, doped out. Blessed are you whose bodies are racked with aids, who have been fired from your job, whose marriages are falling apart. Blessed are all of you who are on the brink of despair. Blessed are all of you.
We live in a crazy, backwards world. So backwards it would require a Savior, a cross in an empty tomb. Frederick Buechner highlighted the lunacy: “If the world is sane, then Jesus is mad as a hatter and the last supper is the mad tea party. In terms of the world’s sanity, Jesus is crazy as a coot, and anybody who thinks he can follow him without being a little crazy too is laboring less under a cross than under a delusion.”
One crazy, backwards world.
Jesus, please help me to think the way you think. Give me your eyes when I look at the world. Thank you that in my brokenness, you prove your power of redemption. My hope is not in myself; it’s in you.
RELEVANT’s “Deeper Walk” daily devotionals are presented by the LUMO Project, a visual translation of the four Gospels developed to engage people with scripture in a new way. You can watch the videos—which redefine the standard of visual biblical media—on YouTube, and find out more about LUMO’s mission at their website.