What is being asked of us is no less. Ultimately everyone is loveable. Adolph Hitler had his Eva Braun. Gang leaders have women who love them. But Christ is not even talking about those kinds of feelings. He’s talking about consideration of the other’s well-being, and that is something we owe to any human—even those who hate us.
“If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.”
This follows the same line of teaching as the previous verse. Their hostility is motivated by spiritual blindness that results in spiritual oppression. We are not to take it personally. Therefore when they don’t just curse us, but actually lash out and strike us or take our possessions, we can turn the other cheek. It’s our religious convictions and commitments that drive them against us, not a personal vendetta, so we can take it all in stride.
Verse 35 is somewhat of a summary statement of the passage. We are not like other people, in our core, in our attitudes, in our values, or our behavior. We are the reverse—the upside down—of all things natural. Those who are in the Spirit live in the rhythm of the Spirit. We do the unexpected, not for the sake of novelty, but because we understand the true nature of things and live in the corrected reality. Our attitudes and actions almost sound like oxymorons: love enemies, and loan as a gift.
The point is this: the values of this world (protection, accumulation, pride, equality, and control) are not the values of the Most High, and there are not the values of the true reality. The values of the true reality are:
1. Love that reconciles to God and oneself, regardless of the self-sacrifice required to attain it.
2. Serving others to do whatever it takes to bring about a society of righteousness, justice, and peace rather than one characterized by power, control, and accumulation.
3. Living the recognition and reality (we call it faith) that God, and not us, is the reference point for all of life. He is the source and end, the means and the goal, and the hidden Grand Player in all that is.