Cable news succeeds in outlining, describing and reiterating what Paul observed: the days are evil – These are desperate times! (Ephesians 5:16) And the times affect the very people who create them. (John 13:34, Matthew 5:44) Paul saw his generation and described ours:
. . . People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn't treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life . . . Refusing to know God, they soon didn't know how to be human either — women didn't know how to be women, men didn't know how to be men. Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men — all lust, no love . . . And it's not as if they don't know better. They know perfectly well they're spitting in God's face. And they don't care — worse, they hand out prizes to those who do the worst things best! (Romans 1:18-32 from THE MESSAGE )
People who believe God live in the midst of people who do not believe in Him, and our charge is to love each other and nonbelievers with love. How do I do I do this?
First, remember that but for God’s grace – and the loving forbearance of several Christians – I might be far worse than the Romans Paul described. Second, ask for a heart that loves – and a will that serves; neither one is second-nature to me. Third, put away the fire hose. I am learning offering cold water in loving cups is one way – though I used to think a fire hose of hot water was one way to quench the "opposition." Fourth pray for Christians who are visible – that they are transparent and effective witnesses of Jesus the Christ.
Finally, I found this e-mail from Peacemaker Ministries quite helpful on how to reconcile, live at peace, among and with “enemies.”
Don't Drop Your Weapons!
Paul also understood that God has given us divine weapons to use in our quest for peace. These weapons include Scripture, prayer, truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Eph. 6:10-18; Gal. 5:22-23). To many people, these resources and qualities seem feeble and useless when dealing with "real" problems. Yet these are the very weapons Jesus used to defeat Satan and to conquer the world (e.g., Matt. 4:1-11; 11:28-30; John 14:15-17). Since Jesus chose to use these weapons instead of resorting to worldly weapons, we should do the same.
(Adapted from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 248)
Food for Thought
What weapons do you tend to use when you are in a conflict?
When we finally decide to reconcile with an enemy, we sometimes approach them with an attitude of "dropping our weapons.” But Jesus never calls us to be unarmed or passive among our enemies. To the contrary, he calls us to lay down our ineffective worldly weapons (like defensiveness, anger, self-justification, and gossip) in order to take up the truly heavy artillery (like love, peace, patience, kindness, and self-control). Take time today to read Romans 12:14-21 and resolve to take up again the weapons for which the Lord sacrificed so much to equip you.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.
"But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head."
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (NASB)