Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone. Titus 3:1-2
I read today’s scripture and immediately felt so sad. If this is to be the general profile of God’s people, then what in the world has happened to us? If a poll were taken amongst the U.S. population, I believe the results would show that Christ-followers are perceived as being slanderous, un-peaceable and inconsiderate.
The roots of this go farther back than a decade. Roots usually do. But the ugly, public manifestations of those roots have shown up since the 2016 election. The most obvious are 1.) the huge political divides stemming from the past two presidential elections, 2.) differing views about Covid and its transmissibility, and 3.) the controversy over vaccines. These three issues alone are splitting churches, families, and friendships.
Disillusionment then plagues the hearts of God’s people as they deal with feelings of disappointment toward those they thought they knew well, those who are acting out in ways they wouldn’t have thought possible. This is especially shocking when it’s someone within an immediate family or in a small discipleship group. Overall, both sides have allowed these earth-bound issues to erode their ability to fellowship with others who have differing views on these topics.
The problem is two-fold. There is an apparent absence of the Spirit in how we treat those in the family of God who disagree with us, and then, how we treat those in governmental authority over us. We condemn and withdraw from our brothers and sisters in Christ and we fight the government and its agencies with slanderous words rooted in rebellion. We are far from ‘peaceable and considerate.’ We have little credibility for being known as ‘gentle.’
What God requires of us is to ‘seek justice and walk humbly with our God.’ Micah 6:8 We, like the courageous Dietrich Bonhoeffer, should be willing to take a stand against a godless regime, the likes of Nazi Germany. We should speak up in the face of evil. But Spirit-driven conviction, clothed with humility, is God’s way and the only way. Read the Christian rhetoric on Facebook. Sadly, there is mostly anger and vengeance. It can not be! Our passionate cry for change must be accompanied by a broken heart for the people who have gone astray. If we are not known for our love, even when righteously angry, people don’t see Jesus. They see an angry religious mob. We’ve taken up arms, both with words and with weapons, to ‘fight for our freedom.’ When will we realize that this is a political slogan, not a biblical one.
We serve, and are subjected to, another kingdom where King Jesus teaches us how to advance His kingdom. We are not Christian soldiers who are commissioned to protect our rights as Americans. We are soldiers in God’s army who fight the prince of darkness on our knees, with prayers for repentance and forgiveness. Then we get up and look for ways to love and serve those who hate us and only in that context can our convictions be heard and not discounted. Jesus was right. They will know us by our love.
It is good to conclude with a Bonhoeffer quote. “The Christian must treat his enemy as a brother and requite his hostility with love. His behavior must be determined not by the way others treat him, but by the treatment he himself receives from Jesus.”