Acts 16:35-40 35 When daylight came, the chief magistrates sent the police to say, “Release those men! ” 36 The jailer reported these words to Paul: “The magistrates have sent orders for you to be released. So come out now and go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to them, “They beat us in public without a trial, although we are Roman citizens, and threw us in jail. And now are they going to smuggle us out secretly? Certainly not! On the contrary, let them come themselves and escort us out! ”38 Then the police reported these words to the magistrates. They were afraid when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. 39 So they came and apologized to them, and escorting them out, they urged them to leave town. 40 After leaving the jail, they came to Lydia’s house where they saw and encouraged the brothers, and departed.
Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek. What exactly does that mean? We are to endure persecution and not strike back when someone lashes out at us. We are to be a people of peace and not stir up conflict. We are to be lovers not fighters. But somehow, we have the idea that we are to just lay down and get trampled on; let the world walk all over us. We should just keep quiet and let injustice happen. After all, we want to be like Christ. But is that what he really meant? Are we supposed to be silent lambs to the slaughter? I don’t think so.
Paul didn’t think so either. Here’s how it played out: Paul and Silas were preaching when some jealous morons made some accusations which led to public flogging. Yes, they convinced the officials to strip their clothes off and beat them. After a good humiliating beating, Paul and Silas were thrown in jail. After a miraculous night in prison, there comes a surprising order: release them. Now most of us would be happy that we were let out. We might turn the other cheek and consider this trial as pure joy. But Paul… he was ticked.
He said something to the effect of, “Excuse me? You think you can just get away with beating and imprisoning innocent people? And now you want us to just leave quietly? Oh no you di’int! I’m not leaving until you come down here and personally escort us out of here. While you are at it, you owe us an apology!” So the officials came and escorted them out and apologized. With their tails between their legs, they then told Paul he needed to leave town. Instead he said, “we’re gonna have some church up in here!” Then after church, he left.
So how do we reconcile this bold stand for justice with turning the other cheek? I think that Jesus was speaking to humility and love. Paul was acting out of confidence. We think for some reason that humility and confidence can’t go together, but they most certainly can. In fact, they should. Just because we are called to be people of peace and love doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t stand up for what’s right. What happened to Paul and Silas was not right, and something needed to be said. Friends, as Christians we are not called to be doormats. We are called to be a people who contend for the kingdom of God here on earth. We need to put our foot down on injustice. We need to be a voice for what is right. And there will be times when your cheeks take some slapping, but your aren’t called to lay down and be walked on.
*In what places have you become timid about your faith because you are trying to turn the other cheek or are afraid of getting slapped altogether?