“ ‘Put your sword back in its place,’ Jesus said to him, ‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?’”- Matthew 26:52-54
It seems like there are a lot of people in our world that seem to challenge our walk with Christ. There are groups that will point and scoff at the sincerity of our connection with God. There are groups who will challenge whether or not there is even a God to worship. There are groups that will challenge the bible and whether or not it is outdated or even worth living by anymore.
No matter what the group is questioning our faith, there two things they have in common; 1) they want to create a shadow of doubt around what we believe and 2) they get Christians very defensive.
I understand the former, but why the latter?
There is something about these challenges that cause Christians to get upset, lash out with hate speech, and possibly even violence against the challengers. I don’t understand it and I can only think that Jesus is watching it all and wondering why we forget His words in times like this.
Christ told His disciples that people were going to hate them (Matt. 10:22). He said that they were going to face persecution due to their relationship with Him (Matt. 10:23). Yet, when we face the haters, we get upset and wonder “Why can’t they embrace the message?”
Well, maybe, it’s because Christ said some of them wouldn’t?
It is hard for us to embrace this. We want everyone to accept the Word of God, but the reality is Christ said they wouldn’t. He said not everyone who hears His words will accept them (Luke 6:49). He knew there would be times His disciples would have the door shut in their face, but He told them to wipe their feet on the door mat and move on (Mark 6:11).
The truth is, we were warned of these days. We were warned that people would doubt the work of God. We were warned people wouldn’t like the message of Christ and would not accept us as carriers of the message.
However, we were told how we are to handle the scoffers and persecutors while Christ was here and after He left.
When Peter responded to the soldiers taking Jesus away, he took his sword and cut off the ear of one of the soldiers. Christ responded by saying, “Great job Peter! Give me five! You showed them not to mess with Jesus!”
Ok, no, that’s wrong. However, from the way we respond to challengers today you would think that was right! The real response was mercy and grace. Christ healed the ear and told Peter to put down the sword, then He shared the words I opened this post with at the top (you know the words in italics).
In 2 Peter 3, Peter warns the Church that scoffers will come, but he shares “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away…and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of or Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:17-18, NIV). The key word is grace!
We recognize that there are people who will choose to ignore the Word of God. They will say things that are hateful towards Christians and our human side will want to respond. However, it is clear, that we need to grow in grace, choose to show grace, and speak with love and not fight the way the world chooses to fight us.
Let the world throw the low blows. Let them speak with hate. We have been taught that it was going to happen. We need to choose to live in grace and let God fight the fight.
Maybe, if we did live in the knowledge of Christ and do what He taught us to do, the world would choose to listen to the Word we share with openness and verbal fists would turn to open hands?
Let grace win, so others might let love in.
QUESTION: What are some ways we you respond to people who challenge your faith?