Responding to Those Who Persecute Us

"Evil is not something to be tolerated per your New Testament.” In an exchange with a brother recently about how to respond to those of other faiths, some of whom may mean us harm, this was one of his statements. It made me think of Romans 12:21"Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good."

At first glance, this verse seems to back what the individual said. It must mean that we must overcome the evil in other people before they overcome us. If that means using force in order to do so, then so be it. We will prevent potential evil done to us by removing the possibility of it from being around us...and therefore overcoming it with good........

All except that is the exact opposite of the message of Romans 12. Not being "overcome by evil" is not the evil in someone else and what physical evil they might do to me. It's the potential for a worldly response of moral evil from within myself. Overcoming the evil in someone else only comes through goodness to that individual. That's why we feed him, clothe him, give him something to drink (Romans 12:20). We bless him who may persecute us; we bless and do not curse (Romans 12:14). We do not resist or combat evil in the same way the world would. The sword is the way of the world. Complete avoidance, a lack of engagement, is the way of the world. Engagement with good even in the face of potential evil is the way of Christ.

"Do not resist an EVIL person; but whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also..." (Matthew 5:39)

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the EVIL and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous." (Matthew 5:43-45)

Perhaps we as ambassadors of Christ need to take another long look at what Jesus actually said about how to respond to evil when we see it. God will judge the hearts of all people in the end. But in the meantime, He still provides good even toward evil people. Perhaps we should consider being more like "sons of your Father who is in heaven."

To His Glory,