I think it would be awesome if people who made a decision to reject Christ would change their minds after interacting with a believer. I mean we know how to treat one another – even though we don’t always do well in that — but how do we treat those who are not a part of the Body of Christ. Enemies can come from without and from within – do we treat our Christian brothers and sisters with more deference and grace than we do the lost?
Consider this – what do you do when you find a person has been slandering you? What is your reaction when you find that someone has ‘stolen’ an opportunity from you? What is your response when you feel you have been shunned by someone? What about when someone messes with your money? your children? your spouse? Detractors can come from within the Body of Christ and from outside of the Body of Christ; do you react to people the same regardless?
For most of my life I have treated antagonists the same, whether within the household of faith or outside of it — I Treated Them Badly! For a long time I stood on my right to be right and my freedom to not be walked over. Truly, I was not a good friend and I didn’t have many good friends. And then I begin to study God’s Word about what was expected of me as relates to people relations and I found that I was to do good to ALL people, but especially those in the household of faith. That blew my mind! To know that I needed to treat Christian brothers and sisters well was fine — but that I was supposed to treat ALL people well was eye opening. When I asked God why – His response was “so that they might know Me”. There it is — it wasn’t about me after all!
As I continued to talk to the Lord about my own life and behavior I learned that my life should be attractive to those outside of the household of faith. Meaning that people who are not Christ followers should be awed by the way I treat my Christian brothers and sisters even when I have been wronged and further, those who are not believers should be attracted to me because of the grace and kindness that they receive in response to a wrong action done to me. Those who know me well know that I made an about-face; and my life has never been richer, fuller or freer! Praise God!
We have a duty to live in love among one another AND out there in the cold, cruel world. We are not expected by our King to return a wrong done with a wrong done. The world is showing its ugliness today; the world is showing hatred borne out of ignorance today; the world is showing disdain for us — but what should our return action be? It has been said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” MLK Jr. It is not easy to do – but the Holy Spirit is in us to help us to act as our King wishes and when we act as our King wishes – we will walk in His favor and not in judgment. Tit for tat might feel good for a moment, but there is no long term satisfaction in anything other than love.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)