The Power to Not Turn the Other Cheek {Encouragement for Young Men}

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Teen Boys, Teen Guys

Somebody shared an interesting thought with me the other day. When we think of turning the other cheek, we, as young guys find that hard to accept. We think of it as weakness, and want to fight back. That’s just a passion within us that makes sense. But what if turning the other cheek shows more strength than it does weakness? What if it’s not as meaningful if the person who turns the other cheek IS weak?

Think about it. If a person doesn’t fight someone because they physically aren’t strong enough, is that any big deal? No, they don’t really have a choice. There’s no respect there. Picture however a tough, strong guy who is able to fight back, and someone slaps him on the cheek. Now he is able to fight back and could probably win against the jerk who is picking a fight. But instead he chooses not to. That demands more respect. That’s meaningful. He’s strong enough to fight back and win, and yet, he still chooses to hold himself back.

This is the very example Jesus gives us. When the soldiers were taking Him away to be crucified, we notice a couple things right off the bat. First of all, Jesus tells His disciples to go buy a sword. Don’t believe me? Look it up! (Luke 22:36) Why then a few hours later does He admonish Peter to put the sword back in his sheath when he cuts off Malchus’s ear? (John 18:10-11) The disciples ask Jesus if they should smite (Luke 22:49) with one of the two swords He told them was enough (Luke 22:38) and when Peter in an impassioned frenzy goes for the closest guy’s head (who ducks left, so that Peter accidentally lops off his right ear), Jesus tells him to put his sword back in his place, for all who take the sword will perish with the sword (Matthew 26:52). Then, to add incense to injury, Jesus touches the guy’s ear, and heals it! (Luke 22:51) Why wouldn’t Jesus let His disciples, who had a small ability to defend Him with their two swords use it? It was partially for their own safety (John 18:8-9), but there was also a deeper reason. He chose not to defend Himself. Look what He tells Peter after telling him to put away his sword: “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53) He then turns to the soldiers and upbraids them for their cowardice but says it must be this way to fulfill the scriptures (Mark 14:48-49). Jesus was communicating that if He wanted to, He could stop what was happening. We know He had power because when all He did was say “I am after the soldiers said they were looking for Jesus, they all fell backwards (John 18:4-6). He could have stopped them if He wanted to. He had the ability to defend Himself. What we see here is that nobody took His life from Him…He laid it down willingly (John 10:18). I’m glad for that. It means the Jesus I serve isn’t the weak, sissified Jesus some would make Him out to be. He is strong and mighty and powerful. So strong that He was able to lay down His life to save us.

So when you see the command to turn the other cheek, know that it doesn’t mean you’re supposed to keep yourself weak and not get strong enough to defend righteousness, your family, the weak, the underprivileged and helpless. It’s not a command for the weak. It takes strength to do what Jesus did and not hot headedly defend your own pride. It means so much more when you willingly turn the other cheek when you have the ability not to.

 

How does this change the way that you think about Jesus and His life on earth?

How can you apply this concept in your own life?  

Have you ever found yourself going between the two extremes of hotheadedness and irresponsibility?

What are ways that you can strengthen yourself, spiritually and physically?

Can you think of a time in which you showed greater strength in holding back rather than exacting vengeance?

Kingdom of God: What and Where? {Encouragement for Young Men}

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Teen Boys

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word “kingdom”?

 

Maybe you imagine a fairy-tale kingdom…a castle with a long drawbridge, and turrets all around.  With a princess high up in a tower (because they always seem to hang around in those things for some reason), a king and queen seated on their thrones with courtiers and jesters attending to them, and knights just outside trotting around on horses.  Or maybe you’re into a little more ancient historical events and picture cruel Assyria, advancing their kingdom by whatever means necessary, piling up the skulls of their enemies by their gates.  Or perhaps Babylon or Persia, with its funny-looking towers with tear-dropped shaped tops.  Or maybe you see Alexander the Great weeping because there’s nothing left to conquer, or see Augustus Caesar ascending to the throne after Julius Caesar was murdered.  Or maybe you see something from Lord of the Rings or Star Wars or imagine the current United Kingdom, I don’t know.

 

In light of all these kingdoms, let me give you my own definition for kingdom.

KINGDOM – Wherever a king has domain.  The place where a king’s authority is in place and the people are subject to him and his laws.

 

In light of all that, did you know the Bible speaks of a kingdom not ruled by man…but God.  The kingdom of God.  In fact, in the book of Daniel, the king of Babylon has a dream of the kingdoms I mentioned above, and when the prophet Daniel interprets it, he explains about another kingdom…the kingdom of God…that will supersede all of these kingdoms!

Daniel 2:44  And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. 

 

That sound pretty sweet!  The God of heaven sets up a kingdom that will NEVER be destroyed!  I kind of want to be on His side!  So when does this kingdom come about?  Let’s fast forward in time to when the Romans were ruling, and Jesus has been born.  In the midst of all this chaos of the Roman empire ruling the Jews, all of a sudden, a carpenter from Nazareth shows up on the scene and begins to preach about a kingdom.

Mark 1:14-15 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, (15) And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. KJV

The Bible says He came in preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand!

Whaaaa?  What is he talking about?  Is it about to come?  Where is it?  Is He leading it?  That’s the exact question some of the Pharisees had.

Luke 17:20-21  And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: (21) Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. KJV

 

Jesus was saying the kingdom of God was already here, and that it did not come with observation, where you can just point to a central location, because it is WITHIN you.  Now before you get all disappointed with what may sound like a cop-out answer, think of how brilliant this is.  God doesn’t just conquer lands and forcefully subject people to His rule at this time.  Instead, He has set up a kingdom that can never be destroyed and has been spread out throughout the entire world already as I’m writing this, filled with pockets of people who are subject to Him!

Remember my definition of a kingdom?  It’s wherever a king has authority and people subject to Him.

We choose whether or not we are going to be a part of this kingdom right now.  Jesus told us how:  Repent and believe the gospel.  That makes perfect sense.  Repentance is changing our mindset about how we live.  It’s acknowledging that my way isn’t right, so I’m going to submit to God’s way.  It’s acknowledging Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, meaning that WHATEVER HE says, goes.  No matter what earthly government we are under at the time, are chief loyalty is to our Highest King!

 

What about you?  Are you part of the kingdom of God as is described here, with the King of Kings having ultimate rule in your heart?

Is there anything in your life that is NOT subject to your King?

Discuss Biblically how we become part of the kingdom and how we can tell others to join the kingdom.

 

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