To the contrary . . .
These are the words that Paul uses at the beginning of Romans 12:20 to encourage the church in Rome (and us, of course!) to NOT respond to hostility and evil behavior in the way that our broken nature typically leads us to respond. We are not of this world, as Jesus makes clear. As a result of that, we live and act and speak in ways that are contrary to the ways of this world—and this is only because of the continual presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Our calling is to live in imitation of Christ. He has shown us perfectly how we are to be in this world, especially in the face of resistance, antagonism, opposition, and hatred toward what we hold most dear.
For the month of November, we will be focused on Romans 12:19-21. At this point in Romans 12, Paul has gotten down to the nitty-gritty. He is challenging all followers of Christ to relinquish what we as humans almost universally believe is our right for “justice” and “recompense.” He is challenging us to replace our vengeful desires with an increased faith in God—a God who will have his vengeance in God’s own time. Paul reminds us clearly that any vengeance is thus to be reserved for God and God alone. Our role in this world is to love, pray for, and act kindly toward all, even those who stand against us. Let us all pray fervently and frequently for the courage to always answer others with a kind word and a kind act, regardless of circumstances.
Enjoy this day together in the presence of God!