not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. – 1 Peter 3.9
Nobody – I mean nobody – likes to be attacked or reviled or be on the recipient of evil. It is never any fun. Christians are no exception.
But something we forget today is that evil and attacks and reviling and persecution are part of what the church has dealt with since the day it was born. There have been good times and bad times for some of the church. There are parts of the church that have always been persecuted and attacked. I am sure that, like now, there were a lot of questions about how we are to respond. We could go through example after example of how Christians have responded throughout history and today.
A few years ago a large Christian college was targeted by a gay pride group not happy with the college’s view on homosexuality. They set up a demonstration and even trespassed on campus with goal of being arrested. Instead of a negative response the college sent out box lunches for the demonstrators.
Just last week 21 Coptic Christians were beheaded by ISIS in Libya. Instead of calling for retribution Christians in the area printed up a gospel tract and determined to pray for the attackers. From what I understand a couple of ISIS members who have taken part in attacks have now been saved.
There are a lot of calls for violent responses to the church’s attackers – and yet here Peter says that when people do evil we are not to respond with evil. When we are reviled we are not to respond with more reviling.
So how is the church to respond? In fact, how do we respond when we are reviled and attacked for our faith?
Peter says to respond with blessing.
I have to admit that doesn’t sit well with my flesh. My flesh says ‘that’s not fair!’
But then was it fair that an innocent Jesus had to go to the cross for me?
I don’t have all the answers, I wish I did. But it looks like the historical church was willing to take a lot more opposition than we are today. We seem to want to respond with bombs and jets and guns and armies or meanness and ugliness and name calling and half-truths and lies and deceptions.
It seems so simple, but it seems so complicated.
May God give all of us His grace to know how to respond.