When we feel we have been wronged, and the bitterness of injustice robs our ability to taste the decadence of God’s love, we find ourselves wondering how we can be expected to go the extra mile in the presence of our oppressors. Whether or not the injury hurled upon us is minor or seemingly insurmountable, the curious charge from this passage can easily leave us confused at best and actively rebellious to the concept at worst. We repeatedly proclaim our rights in the face of the wrongs and accusations perpetrated against us as we build our case against the other.
To me, this passage gives me a way out. Jesus gives us the ability to circumvent the expected and accepted pathway of the world around us by taking again the sacrificial path that is awakened in Matthew 5:38-39. However, I believe that the key to following the course of shirtlessness is found deep down in the dredges of our daily lives. If we live a life that is absolutely purposed, wholeheartedly intentioned, and comprehensively encompassed by the pursuit of pleasing God, we find ourselves much more easily able to go the extra mile. As we go about our daily existence in this way, whether at work, home, or elsewhere, we are intrinsically and continuously upheld and sustained through faith in God’s ability to handle our adversaries. If we know, with God as our witness, that we have loved well, acted with integrity, spoken with honor, and considered the other in our interactions, any accusation, soured business deal, or outright unprovoked act of aggression or condescension is entirely unfounded. Considering this reality we can see that this long coatless journey through life is much more about our consistent and committed lifestyle of radical followship of Jesus’ way than it is about personal vindication. When we leave the wide path of being “in the right” for the narrow way of trusting God fully with our circumstances, we find the peace that surpasses understanding…the life that does what is good and benevolent in the eyes of God even if it costs money, position, or personal vindication. Help us God to understand your ways and to walk in them…Amen.