It seems like everywhere you go, for the most part, you will find somebody who is offended by another person or group. There is so much hate floating around. The atmosphere is filled with negative emotion, to the point where any discussion can very quickly turn into a crisis.

Not too long ago we had the attack on innocent lives in London. Then there was another attack on innocent lives in France. Right here in our own backyard in Alexandria, Virginia, a man decided to open fire at a ball field. As this trend continues we will find ourselves developing calluses and becoming numb to these types of behaviors; if we are not careful, this will end up becoming the norm.

As a result of these attacks, we see an increase in the amount of people groups that are forming. Some groups are forming with the ideology of causing fear, confusion and chaos. There are also others who are rising up with a fuel of hate for others. Of course as human beings we all have a tendency to react or defend ourselves when we are under attack, or when we are oppressed. Of course these reactions are different depending on the the person.

As Christians, our reactions toward all these attacks that are taking place has to be different than one from the world system. The Bible is very clear when it comes to living a Christian life here on earth. We are promised to go through hard times and persecution.

2 Timothy 3:12 (ESV) says: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 4:12-14 (ESV): “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”

Numerous times Jesus shared with his disciples what life would be like after he ascended to Heaven. He made it very clear that if the world hates Him it will indeed hate His followers.

When Paul came along he was encouraging the Christians to recognize the value of persecution and to find joy in the midst of it, because Paul discovered that persecution has a great deal of spiritual value. When you look at the letter that Paul wrote to the Philippian church, he counted his chains as grace that God had placed upon him. He also counted everything that lasts all rubbish so that we may share in the fellowship of the suffering of Christ. These are just a few of the very bold statements that the apostle Paul wrote addressing Christians.

On the other end we see James, the brother of Christ, writes that trials and testing for a Christian are designed to increase faith, develop maturity and endurance. How did Jesus responded while he was persecuted, mistreated, insulted, and beaten to the point of death? Jesus responded with humility, grace and forgiveness.

In 1 Peter 2:23 the Bible tells us that: “When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.”

This scripture is very clear and encouraging to all believers that we are not to fear hard times nor persecution. God has promised us to never leave us nor for sake us. There is never a time where those who were in Christ and trusted in his provision and protection were deserted by God. Those who are the follower of Christ do not live according to the world system rather they live according to the heavenly kingdom system. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10 ESV)

In closing, do not be surprised when the world hates you. Recently, I almost found myself wanting to retaliate against the attacks that were launched directly toward me. I was reminded by the Holy Spirit of this passage in Romans 12:17-21 (ESV): “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

It is time for Christians to stop attacking one another and to start working together in order to bring about the light of Christ into all of life. God bless.

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Erick Kalenga is pastor of His Village church in Culpeper.

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