The bible clearly has a lot of instruction about how we’re supposed to treat people, and lead our lives in such a way we can represent Christ to those who don’t know him and have not heard the good news.
My problem is that I want those people to be nice. That often isn’t the case. There’s a great many red letters in my Life Application Study Bible detailing what we can expect to face from people when we share Christ with them.
Persecution, hatred, even death.
I don’t want to be persecuted. I want to be welcomed. I want to talk about God with people who already know how awesome He is. I don’t want to defend my faith, and I don’t want to turn any cheeks.
I want to hit people back. I want to go “Chuck Norris” on my enemies.
Scripture tells me I can’t. This morning I read Proverbs 25: 21-22 while I was eating my oatmeal, and I didn’t like it.
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals in his head, and the Lord will reward you.
The first thing I thought about was why the heck should I do that for my enemy? And while I might not have any personal enemies, certainly it could be argued that as Christians there are a great many people who hate us for believing in something besides ourselves and trying to lead our lives so they demonstrate that.
Certainly today’s social and political climate in the United States is a vivid demonstration of how a great many people feel about Christians and what they stand for, or perhaps “stand against” would be more apt.
That’s neither here nor there.
To my mind, what it’s about is a human response to an affront vs a Godly response.
We are not God. We are people, and our human nature is to respond like to like. So if someone cuts me off (or flips me off) in traffic, I want to make sure I “get them back” in some way, even if that involves a raised finger of my own or a few shouted words.
If someone insults me, my family, or my faith, I want to respond in kind. I want to out-protest their protest. I want to make them look like idiots because they tried to make me look like one.
Jesus tells me I can’t do that. His Godly nature demonstrates how lacking in grace my human nature is.
It is solely through his presence–his inhabitation–that I can show any grace at all.
Because I have been shown grace, I can be graceful.
Because I have been shown mercy, I can be merciful.
Because I have been shown love, I can be loving.
The trick is, it’s more important I show these things to enemies than friends. My family and friends already know they are loved.
Enemies being enemies, they expect a certain response to their actions. Unfortunately, we often give them what they’ve come to expect from us. It’s in our nature.
With God’s nature, we suddenly have the ability to respond how they do not expect.
That changes everything. In my opinion, it is difficult to respond to love with hate.
Unfortunately, it’s also hard to respond to hate with love.
Yet as we progress through a season of changing political and religious tolerances, it seems clear that unless we change something, entropy isn’t just going to be a concept we learn about in high school.
We’re going to destroy ourselves.
It’s not too late to seek harmony instead of entropy.
It’s not too late to respond to hate and persecution with love.
It’s not too late too late to look at the person in the mirror and ask them if they truly know God and care about His will for their life.
It’s not too late to manifest that will for our lives in our lives.
So the next time you’re confronted with hate, or prejudice, or persecution, try and respond with love.
They won’t expect it, and you’ll heap burning coals on their head.