Of all the things Jesus taught the most difficult is found in Matthew 5:38-41:
38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
There is no doubt that we would have a much better world if all of us could adopt these precepts and adhere to them willingly. Imagine all the blood feuds that would end if we gave up on the eye-for-an-eye approach to justice. But wait…. If somebody wants your coat, give him your cloak too? If he wants your car, give it to him and hand over your house as well? If he makes you work for him one day, work two? Where would that end? He’d be rich and you’d be a beggar on the street.
The key here is that everybody would have to agree to this novel idea. If one group of people stuck with the “compelling” part of this passage, they would be able to rule the world. Take the Nazis for example.
After having watched the second season of The Man in the High Castle the challenges of a Christian approach are clear. If the Nazis and Japanese military had won the Second World War what a terrible world we would have had! Both shared an utterly ruthless approach to life. Anyone who stood in their way was destroyed without pity. And what was really striking in the final episode was that the Resistance fighters ended up being just as ruthless, just as pitiless as the Nazis themselves because if a Nazi is going to compel you to walk a mile and you do it, you will soon become his slave. He will happily wipe out an entire city or race of people who stand in his way and as a Christian, you would bow your head and accept his death sentence meekly—after all, it’s the meek who inherit the Earth. The only way to avoid this consequence is to convert every single Nazi to Christianity or fight back and become as ruthless as they are.
But that’s not the last word. In the final episode of the show it turns out that compassion at a personal level—that all-important human-to-human sacrament– saves the day—sort of. It’s a world of paradoxes—to say any more would give too much away. Watch it—it makes you think.