Teachings About Peace


Most Mennonites get their primary ideas about peace from what Jesus said and how he lived. Jesus’ statements are often difficult to understand and even more difficult to live. We see Jesus’ message of peace not only in his teachings and stories, but also in the way he treated others, including those who put him on trial.

Jesus’ instruction to turn the other cheek has been interpreted by Christians to mean that one should be patient and humble rather than easily angered and ready to strike back when struck. Walter Wink, professor of biblical interpretation at Auburn Theological Seminary (N.Y.), gives additional insight. He points out that a blow on the other person’s right cheek has to be a back-handed slap, (i.e., you can’t very easily slap a person on the right cheek with the inside of your hand, so this infers a back-handed slap. Also, in that culture your left hand was reserved for wiping after toileting.) A back-handed slap would be intended by a powerful person to demean and insult one without power, such as a slave, woman or child. So turning the other cheek is a quiet way of saying, “I am your equal.”

Thus, in a symbolic act, the demeaned person declares himself an equal, a child of God. He may suffer worse punishment, but he has made his point. In a small way the powers (military here) have been disarmed and a new way pointed out. (From Vern Rossman’s study guide, Confronting the Powers that Be)

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you”
(Luke 6: 27-28. Follow this link to read all of Luke 6.).