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When Our Neighbors Oppose Us, How Should We Respond?

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Do you find yourself resentful towards those who hold different moral, civil, or political views? Does the exaltation of sin within our culture enrage you? Certainly, we live in a time when people cannot respectfully disagree with one another while remaining cordial. Disagreements in ideology are viewed as necessities for personal attacks and slander.

The temptation is for the Christian to aggressively attack, and even insult our adversaries. It is true that we must not waiver from the truth of the Word of God, and we never cower down through the affirmation of sin. We are called to live radical lives for Jesus, rather than lukewarm lives (Revelation 3:16). However, as a reminder, our enemies are not men and women, but rather the spiritual forces of darkness.

The Apostle Paul writes, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12, NASB).

When people oppose us, how should we respond? We are called to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44, NASB). Our motivation in life should not be to shame or defeat our human enemies, but rather to see them turn to Christ in repentance.

For example, regardless of your political affiliation, you might experience frustration when different politicians are entrusted with power to lead state and/or federal government. The easy response is to hope for their failure and to speak out against them.

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Now, I am not insinuating that we deny our convictions by embracing poor and immoral political policies. Vote according to your convictions, which should be aligned with the Scriptures. However, we should pray for our political leaders (1 Timothy 2:2). God can use prayers to transform even the hardest of hearts, and God uses prayer to give us a greater love for others. It is hard to hate someone who you are praying for.

Our real adversary is the spiritual forces to whom Paul refers in Ephesians 6:12. The devil has a goal “to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10, NASB). The devil and the spiritual forces of wickedness long for you to fail and suffer. Knowing this truth is half of the battle; the other half involves equipping ourselves with the armor of God.

The armor of God includes: the belt of truth—delighting in the Word of God; the breastplate of righteousness—the perfect righteousness of Christ covers His children; the feet of readiness for the Gospel of peace—we are ambassadors of God; the shield of faith—God gives us faith and we place it in Him; the helmet of salvation—we are secure in Christ Jesus; the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God—our offensive weapon against the enemy; and prayer in the Spirit—remaining in communication with the Lord (Ephesians 6:13-18).

Dr. Randall Downs says, "It is hard to hate someone who you are praying for." | How to Love Your Enemies

Also, as we pray for and evangelize our enemies, remember: “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they will not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4, NASB). Do not give up on others because of their attitudes but love even the most unlovable people … in hopes that they turn to Christ.

Finally, I’d like to encourage you to check out a recent interview between Dr. Jeff Myers, president of Summit Ministries, and Heather Walker Peterson, senior editor for The Colson Center. Together they discuss why truth and grace extended by the believer are both crucial in today’s radical culture.

At one point Peterson says, “[T]hese people are made in God’s image and sometimes they say crazy things. But … let us remember there’s grace and redemption and God can still change them … let’s be the people who forgive.” [34:16-34:35].

Yes, Lord, help us to be the people who forgive; help us to be more like Your Son.

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Dr. Randall Downs is from Mobile, AL. He received his Master of Divinity (2011) and his PhD in Church History (2018) from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, TN. Randall is the Director of the Worship Arts program at Grand Canyon University, and he currently serves as Worship Pastor at CrossLife Church in Anthem, AZ. Randall is also the singer, guitarist, and songwriter for the folk/folk-rock band, Loser’s Way Home.
Dr. Randall Downs is from Mobile, AL. He received his Master of Divinity (2011) and his PhD in Church History (2018) from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, TN. Randall is the Director of the Worship Arts program at Grand Canyon University, and he currently serves as Worship Pastor at CrossLife Church in Anthem, AZ. Randall is also the singer, guitarist, and songwriter for the folk/folk-rock band, Loser’s Way Home.




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