I’m typing out this issue on Monday November 7, 2016, the day before the historic presidential election. I have no idea who the next president of the United States will be. With all that’s going on, how could one make a solid prediction?
There is one thing I am assured about though: Roughly half of our nation will be elated at the outcome and the other half not so much so. On the contrary, quite upset. This leads me to the following question: How can we learn to get along with one another?
As I ponder this from a Biblical perspective, I’m reminded of the wisdom found in the 12th chapter of the book of Romans; “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse… Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud… Do not repay anyone evil for evil… If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
I find this wisdom suitable for our present state. Yet to apply it is a whole other matter because it’s only “natural” for us not to.
In the same way that it is natural for my children to be bad, so also it is natural for us to curse those who curse us and repay evil for evil. (Danica and I have the responsibility of disciplining our children to be good, right? If we don’t, then we can only expect them to misbehave.)
OK, so how can we apply the wisdom? We do so by relying on a “supernatural” Source. We need to acknowledge our dependency on the indwelling Holy Spirit to encourage and empower us to operate in such fashion! To some, this wisdom even defies logic. “Come on, really? Bless others who are persecuting me?” Yep. We must trust that this wisdom is truly God’s instructions for us so that we may do our part in healing our land from the persistent gush of vitriol.
“Bless those who persecute you.” Are you being persecuted for your Christian faith? It depends on how out-spoken you are regarding said faith. (“Those who desire to live a godly life will be persecuted” – 2 Timothy 3:12.) Persecution comes in many forms: Bullying in the workplace or the school campus, the marginalization and even intimidation from non-Christian activists… Even one’s home can no longer be a refuge from persecution, as supported in Jesus’ prophetic words, “…there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided…” (Luke 12:52-53).
“Bless those who persecute you.” Bless those who differ from you in their political views and become vitriolic in their reply. “Do not repay evil for evil.” That’s right. Don’t repay vitriol for vitriol. Did you instigate the feud in a vitriolic fashion? Christian, ask for forgiveness.
It’s apparent that this article is for Christians – those who want to live and be like Jesus. This means, among many other things, that we are called to be meek (Matthew 11:29; 5:5), which is not defined as weakness, but rather as strength under control. That said, we are not called to merely stand down when we are denigrated for our faith-based political beliefs. The habitual wimpiness of many Christians is grating!
To be meek is not to be wimpy. Rather, it is to exude from your being, like a fragrance, strength that is self-controlled. To be meek is a blessing to others for you learn to apply your strength – or power – accordingly and in proper measure to bring about “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:7).” (Sometimes loving conflict is necessary to bring about such things. Yet, I digress.) This is what the Kingdom of God consists of.
In closing, I have a question. How exactly will you be a blessing to those who are persecuting you? As a Christian, you are part of God’s cure from the vitriol that ails us all.
~ Paul and Danica Bartelme have been married for 23 years and have three children age 13 years and under. Jacob (13), Lily (11), and Luke (9). They’ve been residents of Escondido for 12 years and love Harley motorcycles and good music. They pastor Escondido’s very own Sanctuary Church.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of Times- Advocate.