It’s happened again. It’s happening more often as the days go by. My friend lost their job because they wouldn’t do something unethical at work. When they invoked their faith in Christ, they were mocked and belittled. Then came the notice to look for another job. Perhaps it was different for you. Perhaps you mentioned your faith in a discussion and everyone else took exception. You were excluded from the group. Those are the kinds of things that make our blood boil as Christians. They make us see red, and then we mutter under our breath something like, “Someone has to pay for this.”
Over the last 2000 years of the Christian Era those who follow Christ have been attacked and insulted for their faith far more than they have been commended. In the early church especially Christians were disowned by family members, persecuted to the point of death, kicked out of jobs or careers, and mocked and insulted by those in power. Many say that the cure for the Church is to become more like the early Church – but they sure aren’t asking for the persecution. The worst part about all of this? God’s solution. “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:9)
That, of course, is not the reaction Christians normally have in the US. Here we are going to fight for our rights as individuals. Here we are going to find the responsible party and sue them. We will be vindicated and gain victory over our opponents no matter what the cost. Usually the cost is our relationship with God. That takes back seat to winning the battle. We are going to show them. They can’t get away with doing that to me….er…to all Christians. These words of Peter, though, haunt us as we make our plans to gain vengeance. “Don’t repay evil with evil or insult with insult.” Obviously Peter didn’t understand how this stuff works! What did he ever go through? In case you’ve forgotten, tradition holds that he was crucified, likely in an upside down position, in Rome. He also saw the example of Jesus, who, when He was crucified, sought God’s forgiveness for those who were crucifying Him. Our goal as followers of Christ is not fair treatment, or equal treatment, or even just treatment; our goal is to glorify Jesus Christ. When being attacked by people with evil intentions, or being insulted, the command is clear: repay evil with blessing. This is our calling.
There is a great example of Paul demanding rights in the Bible he was let out of the Philippian jail in Acts 16. When the Philippian authorities sought to release Paul, Paul demanded his rights as a Roman. He was not doing so for personal gain. He sought to show people that following Christ was acceptable for Roman citizens. In most instances when Christians today fight for their rights, they are seeking to right a wrong done to them, not one that affects the ability of all Christians to share the gospel. Our ultimate goal is not preferential treatment. Our ultimate goal is not equal treatment. Our ultimate goal is to be obedient to Jesus not matter what comes our way. When we are obedient, we may suffer for our faith. When that happens, we are to bless those causing us the trouble and share God’s grace and mercy with them. Yes, you may have been wronged. Yes, it may be hard to show grace and return blessing for cursing. The only way to be able to do that is to share the grace that God has given us. I can guarantee that you will never give more grace to others than God has given you. It’s easy to give grace to the person who bumps into us. It’s not so easy to give grace to the person who puts us on the cross.
Lord God, it’s not easy responding to insults or wrongs with grace. Still, Jesus did it from the cross. Help me to share grace with those who wrong me. Remind me of how much grace You have given me.