HALF THE COUNTRY wants to get even for the way the other near-half did them dirt.
The other near-half of the country felt the same way about the other half a couple of years ago. But at the moment, they’re feeling mighty fine.
It won’t last.
The pendulum swings back and forth, sometimes more radically than others, and to the more extreme left and right.
There are people who enjoy this. I suspect the spirit within them never grew up beyond the stage of a bully.
In the face of a bully, most of us want to fight back. It is the natural inclination. Who wouldn’t want to punch a bully right smack in the kisser?
Not the way to peace.
We talked about this in Bible study this past Sunday.
Even in my own class, here in the state of Kansas, we are fairly evenly divided among the happy and the unhappy.
The gentleman leading the study read aloud Romans 12 from the Casual English Bible that I have been paraphrasing.
Then, he made several attempts to get the class to address the question about how we put into practice what Paul suggested.
We talked about the problem, the fractured state of our nation, the division into what appears to be two nations un-united.
I don’t recall anyone answering his question.
Read Paul’s advice, especially in the closing verses. If you can answer my friend’s question, I’d love to pass it along to him.
Romans 12, Don’t try to fit in with this world
Give all of yourself to God
12:1 Dear family, I’m coming to you because of God’s mercy. I’m asking you to give yourselves completely to him. Instead of showing your devotion to God by sacrificing an animal on the altar, give him your entire body as a living sacrifice. Present your body in complete devotion1 to God, for him to accept. This is a reasonable way to worship him.
2 Don’t adapt your life to fit this world. Transform yourself by expanding your mind. Do it so you can recognize God when he’s guiding you. He’ll take you in the direction of what is good for you, and perfect.
Find your skill and do it
3 Because God has kindly given me this mission assignment, I need to make sure you understand something. Don’t get uppity. Keep a level head about who you are, and make good decisions based on the faith God has given you.
4 The body that we walk around in every day has a lot of different body parts that do a lot of different things
5 Well, we Christians are one body in Christ. We are individual members of one church. We belong to each other.
6 We each have a different skill set, thanks to God’s kindness.2 If you’ve been given the gift of prophecy, then go ahead and prophesy as far as your faith will take you.
7 If serving others is what you love to do, go ahead and do it. It’s your gift. If you love to teach, go ahead and teach.
8 If you’re a natural encourager, do it. Encourage. If you have the resources to give generously, go ahead and give generously. If you’re a leader, lead with energy. If you have the gift of showing mercy, show it with a smile.
Keep it real—no faking love
9 Don’t fake your love; keep it real. Hate evil with all the guts you have in you. Love what is good and hug it tight.
10 Love each other like brothers and sisters who actually get along. Honor one another like there’s no tomorrow. Take it to the limit.
11 Don’t wimp out. Keep your spirits up. Do whatever the Lord wants you to do.
12 Celebrate the hope you have. When suffering comes, treat it with patience. Spend time talking to God in prayer.
13 When you see other believers who need some help, give them a hand. Always try to be welcoming and hospitable.
14 Ask God to show kindness to people who make you feel miserable. Don’t ask God to give them what for.
15 When you see someone happily celebrating, join right in. If they’re crying, you can cry, too.
16 Get along with each other. Don’t be aloof. Stay down to earth, and live your life in constant touch with people who don’t have much to call their own. Don’t spend much time thinking about how smart you are. It wouldn’t be smart.
Payback is none of your business
17 When someone does you wrong, don’t return the favor. People are watching. Let them see you do something good.
18 Try to get along peaceably with everyone, when it’s possible.
19 Never try to get even with someone, my dear friends. That’s God’s business. Let him take care of it. Our Bible says he’ll do it: “I’m the Avenger. I take care of the payback,” says the Lord.3
20 Your job is to do the opposite of getting even. “If your enemy is hungry, give him some food. If he’s thirsty, give him a drink. Doing this is going to make those folks feel pretty doggone bad.”4
21 Don’t let the bad guys win. Beat them with goodness.
112:1 The Greek word is usually translated as “holy
212:6 The Greek word is often translated “grace.”
312:19 Deuteronomy 32:35.
412:20 Proverbs 25:21-22. A more literal translation of the last phrase would be “pour burning coals on their head.” Bible experts aren’t sure what Paul meant by that. One option is that it would make the people feel so ashamed that they would repent. One piece of history that might seem to support that is that there was an Egyptian ritual that involved a person carrying coals of fire on the head as evidence that they were genuinely sorry for something they’ve done. Another option is that by doing something good in return, you make the person even more guilty and more deserving of punishment. So in a sense, you are entrusting the abusive person to God, but you are trying to make the person look even more guilty. That might not sound particularly Christian. But given some of our relatives, it could sound like a fun idea.