Hurting people | Discipleship Prayer Day 21

Am I content to be a peddler of Christlike love in this world—nothing more, nothing less? 

Intentions aside, we’re all capable of hurting people.
― Melanie A. Smith

Ain’t that the truth!

Each and every one of us is more than capable of hurting the people around us…and the opportunities to do so are plentiful. Unfortunately, it can be easy to justify our hurtful ways for the sake of any number of issues, agendas, or concerns we have personally, politically, in society, or in the church. My purpose here is not to debate which of these issues, agendas, and concerns are worthy of our attention, but rather to take a look at how Scripture reminds us to speak and act in all circumstances.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not CURSE

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

Live in harmony with one another.

Do not be PROUD, but be willing to associate with people of low position.

Do not be CONCEITED.

Do not REPAY EVIL FOR EVIL

Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone

Do not be OVERCOME BY EVIL, but overcome evil with good.

― Romans 12:14-18, 21

We might be tempted to believe that we are living in a time of great persecution of the church and the loss of Christian rights and privileges. Our society is changing rapidly, to be sure, but we are still a long ways from the early church under the oppressive Roman regime. The Roman Empire, at its height, was thought to be invincible and its Emperors divine. Yet, less than 300 years into the history of the church, the unconquerable Roman Empire embraced Christianity and, in time, became the center or Western Christendom.

How did this happen? It wasn’t with swords…or legislation…or because of its financial resources. At the foundation of everything was the simple, agape-filled lifestyle that these followers of the Way embraced.

Love does no harm to a neighbor, so throw out all bitterness and rage, anger and harsh words, untruthfulness and unkindness, and all other kinds of evil, unChristlike behavior.

Don’t be conceited or arrogant and don’t get into shouting matches to try and prove yourself right.

Instead, be humble and put others above yourself.

Be tenderhearted and kind, making a lifestyle of forgiveness and grace, because God has forgiven you in this same way through Christ.

This kind of love is the fulfillment of of the law.

This is the kind of life that transforms hearts, families, communities, and nations.

--Paraphrase and interpretation of Ephesians 4:29-32, Romans 13:10, and Philippians 2:3

So, even as our own society changes rapidly and we all deal with the loss of the church’s favored position in society (and all that is rolled up into that), we are not left without hope. I prefer to see these changes as gaining new opportunities rather than losing something without which we cannot live. We may find, in fact, that the crucible of change in which we are now living will become a galvanizing crucible that will awaken, strengthen, and unite the people of God in ways not seen for generations.

“Have men and women always got to hurt each other this way?” cried Ralph.
”Yes. Anybody that ain't content with being a peddler is going to hurt himself and everybody else, I guess,” said Joe.”

― Sinclair Lewis

Am I content to be a peddler of Christlike love in this world—nothing more, nothing less? Teach me this contentment, Lord, that I might not hurt those around me.

More importantly, let my life—however long it may be, wherever it may be lived, and among whomever I may find myself living it—be a gracious witness of your love, your mercy, and your forgiveness.