Matthew 5:38-40: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.”
To turn the other cheek does not mean that we are to take abuse, or to be passive to evil. To believe that would be to take it completely literally and it would be greatly mistaken. Essentially it means that when you are in the love of good and truthful things, evil will seek to attack and assault the truth in the effort to destroy it. Right cheek refers to a person who has an internal love for God and His truths, and to turn the other cheek means that evil cannot reach these internal things because it has no perception of it.
In down to earth terms it means that, even though some people may treat us badly, we are not to become like them; to see what they are doing, and address it with composure as best we can. It is natural and appropriate to be angry at some things, but as a guiding light we look to be right with God first. But as we all know we are not perfect, and God knows that; we strive to learn.
Swedenborg intimates that the ‘cheek’, by correspondences, is the holder of innermost things, it represents the truths and loves coming to us by influx that we are not fully conscience of; but we sense them, and are influenced and guided by them. The cheek in quality has characteristic of being rosy, soft, and at the same time not directly engaged in communication, yet very close to it. These characteristics are an image of how we as humans are ‘passive receivers of God’ in a certain valuable way. This means that it is the most pure innocence in us that is capable of receiving the influence of good from God! And we are not fully aware of this highest place of reception.
This is the ‘still small voice’ of our conscience that can receive God in the innermost that is above our immediate cognition. It is passive, not in a negative way as we think of that word, but in the sense it is reception. Man must have this stillness of innocence to receive deeply from God, (for as we have talked about before Man is a receptacle of life from God). This place of reception then requires, on our part, an attentiveness and inner activity to be processed and eventually understood. It is pre-conscience and we must do the work of ‘mining’ it, of discerning and understanding and applying to life. When we do this processing it makes it ‘our own’, (even though it comes from God).
The phrase, ‘I tell you not to resist an evil person’, means evil cannot touch this inner place; it is for us and God. Evil is outsie it, but evil is very good at distracting us from it. God protects this place from the evil, it is the core of our true freedom. Part of the way God protects it is the very obscurity of the literal sense, but that we are now penetrating here. All of this, and no doubt much more, is contained in the literal sense but if one does not hold the Word sacred they are not allowed in the internal sense and see only the literal in varying degrees.
This core reception is mostly thought of as being received in meditation, or in prayer/communion with God, which is true, but it is also received in the activity and flow of life. If we are doing good for others, building and giving in the use from love toward others we can receive inspiration in action, be led by the Lord. Some examples would be in the spontaneous flow of making music, or working together as a team, being ‘in the zone’ in sports; being deeply engaged in any kind or work or art.