We have now come to some of the most difficult passages in the whole of the new testement. I believe this is where Jesus begins to explain justice in the kingdom, and particularly in the kingdom breaking into the world.
Matthew chapter 5
An Eye for an Eye
38"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'[g] 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
Love for Enemies
43"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor[h] and hate your enemy.' 44But I tell you: Love your enemies[i] and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Jesus starts this sermon outlining the upside down nature of the kingdom of God, he then begins to tell us of our calling, He moves on to morality, and now he begins to talk about justice. Now this isn't Jesus call for justice for the poor, or the marginalized, but rather our sense of self justice. And he starts right at the heart of the matter with the "old way".
He says that the old way of eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth is not the rule for this kingdom. He then says some very extreme statements. Do not resist and evil person! If someone strikes you do not strike back! If someone is trying to take away your shirt, give them your coat also! If someone compells you to go with them a mile, go with them two, and give to whoever asks to borrow from you!!! Jesus tells Jewish men, who abhor the Romans, and feel incredibly wronged to be under their rulership, and believe they are justified to fight against this oppression, that when a Roman soldier tells you to walk with him a mile and carry his pack (a legally acceptable practice that could not be turned down) rather than fight against this oppression you are to go with them twice.
This seems completely unfair does it not? Do not resist an evil person? Come on! I take a very unique and uncommon view here, I actually believe that Jesus meant what He said. I believe this because He then spends his life demonstrating it. He actually does it, and then His disciples do it. He did not live like this was just some hyperbole, to make a point, He actually lived it out. And calls us to follow Him.
He then explains that God allows both good and evil to cop both good and evil. That the Father often appears unfair in his dealings with the world, and also calls us to do the same. To be perfect in our love for those that are good and friends, and for those that try to hurt and injure us. This is not easy. Infact is is very very hard. Almost as hard as being told to sell everything you own, give the money to the poor and live a life as an itinerate preachers apprentice. Rather than try and make this softer, easier, more palatable, I would rather say: this is Christ's teachings, and though I fall short, I will fall upon Gods mercy and empowerment, and attempt to grow into this level of faith. Lord help my unbelief!
The road is narrow, and hard, and few choose to walk it, but it truly does lead to life. Jesus is telling us as we walk this narrow road, our sense of personal justice is to be sacrificed to a new law of love. The good news is, God's Spirit promises to empower us to do just that.