Doormats For Jesus?

Q. In response to ‘Love your Enemies’, I often find it difficult to obtain a balanced view of this scripture. Personally, I hate any sort of confrontation so it would be easy for me to ‘turn the other cheek’, but in your comments you say we are not to be doormats. How are the two viewpoints reconciled? For instance how would you behave to a bully – stand up to them or back down? Thanks. God Bless.

A. There is another alternative between standing up and backing down. And that’s to tell the bully how much the Lord loves him, and that He’s sent you to let him know that if he really needs to push someone around to make himself feel good, you’re willing to be that someone, in the name of Jesus Christ.

The most extreme case of this I know of was that of missionary Jim Elliot. He and his friends went to bring the gospel to some of the most violent people on Earth, in the Amazon River basin of Ecuador. They knew there was a good chance they’d be attacked for their trouble, but they determined in advance not to use weapons, even if threatened. “These people don’t know the Lord. They can’t afford to die,” Elliot said. “We can.”

In the most courageous application of “turn the other cheek” I’ve ever heard of, they let them selves be killed rather than risk condemning their attackers to hell. Incredibly their widows went back in and over the next few years brought the whole community to the Lord. Because of them a tribe of Ecuadorian Indians turned from violence to a life of peace.

Thankfully, most of us will never be called upon to demonstrate the gospel so dramatically.

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