There seem to be a lot of militant, nasty people out there doing their best to force us to follow their evil agendas – from Islamic terrorists to union bullies to radical left-wing angry atheists. How is the Christian meant to respond to the people who push evil with all their being?
I believe that Romans 9 has the answer. There is no doubt that things like stand-over intimidation and threats in the workplace right through to the terror that surrounds the murder of innocent people in a public place is evil. Pure evil. As such, the Apostle Paul instructs us to hate it. Going one step further though, do we also hate those evil people who are perpetrating such heinous crimes? In a word – no.
We are to bless those who persecute us. We are not to curse them. We are not to repay evil for evil or to take revenge. In fact, as much as it’s up to us, we are to live at peace with everybody, even the idiots who thrust such vicious hate toward our society.
Does this mean that we tolerate evil because we’re supposed to love and minister to workers of hideous obscenities? Do we let the ugly corruption of humanity continue its march? Of course not. As I have written before, we must push back!
What then do we do? The answer is to not let ourselves be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good. Although the growing foul destruction around us seems to be growing and at times feels overwhelming, we must remember Galatians 6:9. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. We keep sowing our seeds of goodness. We do our part and we leave God to do the rest. We sow and He gives the increase or takes vengeance – whatever is appropriate in His eternal plan for the salvation of man. By ignoring that His ways are higher than ours and attempting to force our own justice onto a situation, we can be preventing God from acting how He wishes.
We are instructed to live in harmony with one another. What is harmony? The King James translates this word, Harmony, as being of the same mind – so clearly we’re not in this type of agreement with evil-doers, so what is it to live in harmony with one another? In 2 Corinthians 6, we’re told to not bind ourselves to unbelievers. The apostle Paul asks, “What harmony is there between Christ and the Devil? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” It would seem then that this harmony with one another is nothing to do with being of one mind with evil-doers, but rather with brothers and sisters in Christ. We’re also told to live at peace with everyone, but only as much as it’s up to us.
It would seem to me that when Christians live in harmony – walking day to day in agreement and love, bound to each other by like-minded prayer, servitude and worship – that the salt, light and fragrance witnessed by the world becomes obvious and Christianity’s attractive points of difference become welcoming beacons of hope. In doing this, we’re not overcome by evil, but we overcome evil with good.
The idea of harmony in the body of Christ got me thinking. I’ve been in a few choirs and done a bit of background singing. I know the ‘goosebump joy’ that comes from well-executed harmony. I also know what it’s like to have somebody standing next to me who is hair-stand-on-end pitchy. It’s like chewing on ice with sensitive teeth. But with love, encouragement, training, support, patience, lots of practice and a good sound guy, such a person can find themselves more and more free to sing, and sing well. At the same time, our strong lead singing the notes accurately is crucial. It’s like that with all our areas of creativity. Just because we’re not immediately good at something, we shouldn’t give up. If God has given us a love for it, then we should continue to pursue it with dedication and passion.
So it is in the body of Christ. I sing my note, the one I love to sing. My wife sings another note that harmonises with mine. Our Christian neighbours sing a number of other notes that harmonise to ours. Other brothers and sisters in our church sing their own notes. Some are the same note as others are singing, but their voices ring with an alternate timbre. The church, the body of Christ in our city, rings with a rich tapestry of harmony. Well, that’s what we’re aiming for as we seek to advance the Kingdom.
But what happens in the body of Christ when somebody is singing loud, proud and out-of-tune? That is, they are not of one heart and one mind in unity with the community of the saints. The answer is the same; we lead strongly singing the correct notes, we love, encourage, support and train with patience, practice and maybe even a good sound guy. The Bible is our song book and we must do all we can to sing our song in beautiful harmony for all the world to hear. By this, we will see our nation’s culture change and the Kingdom increase.
Ever changing; Thy Kingdom come
Romans 12: Love in Action
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord.20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e]
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.