“When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly.”
~1 Corinthians 4:12b, 13a (NIV).
As Jesus had to deal with bullies in the Pharisees and other religious leaders of his time we too will also occasionally deal with people and leaders within the established church who’ve got set agendas that depart from the gospel of grace; for instance, but not limited to, those active in Muslim-bashing, or those with set views on the end times, or those with any sort separatist slant on any ethical issue we care to name.
Instead, as we’re bombarded by rhetoric to “conform or else,” we have the opportunity to live the genuine and responsible meekness of our Lord in our response to these.
When We Are Cursed
At times we’ll be judged from within faith circles by what the Holy Spirit has put into our hearts; an instinct for justice and peace. There is a divergence within our souls on a particular issue... how will we reconcile and resolve that?
Our natural instinct is to curse back when we’re cursed. But cursing back, as is mentioned below, is merely handing control of matters to other people. It’s ensuring that we will not have the emotional faculties, for the time at least, for our own internal peace.
When We Are Persecuted
I recall a story a younger man told me recently where he became caught up in a Christian ‘sect’ in university. He found it incredibly difficult to get away from this radical group which had so-called ‘biblical’ views on everything.
How he got out of that situation is a lesson for all of us. As he felt the weight of persecution—and for him it was pressure to conform to extremist ritual of thought—he would simply not have a comment to add. He became non-committal. He did this, as well as also networking elsewhere, and eventually became unwoven from their trapping fabric. He endured the worst they could throw at him.
When We Are Slandered
Our first reaction when we’re slandered is to defend ourselves. Perhaps it’s because we feel like we need to defend ourselves for what’s been said.
It is a taught response then to answer kindly. This is not being a doormat as I’ll point out further down. It’s about seizing back control of the situation that two minutes or two days ago was fine. If the aggressor has taken control of our thoughts why do we insist on leaving control with them?
The only way we can wrest control back is by being above them in maturity, and going beyond them by answering kindly before moving swiftly on.
Dealing Maturely With the Aggressor
Life provides endless offence to us if we’ll only take it that way. Paul is showing us a better alternative. It works on anyone who’ll come to us aggressively—for there are only three ways we’ll generally find to deal in returning serve.
We can meet it with aggression, which won’t work—it’ll only escalate matters. We can submit and become the doormat. None of us likes that idea too much. Finally, we’re able to respond assertively though meekly, and this here is what Paul’s talking about—it’s the mature response.
The mature response is the only one that justifies response, and it’s the only one that gets us safely away from these false-teaching crazies.
The mature response is the one that meets the attack with a higher intellectuality. It’s thinking adultly, with poise and wisdom to not become tangled and, further, to actually become untangled from the webs of treachery that seek to hold us.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.