What is the culture of the Kingdom of God? It is a culture of love. It is love demonstrated in humility, kindness, gentleness, patience, and peace. It is a culture in which God’s children reveal Christ through our lives. And it should be obvious that we are different from the world. We are exiles among them. Verses 8-9 describe the manner in which we should live.
“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.”
These verses describes our behavior toward one another and verse nine expands our conduct to others. People will not like our refusal to conform to the norms of the society. They may be cruel. They may hate us. But we are not to hate them back. We are to love them, pity them, and be Jesus to them so they might know Him and be saved. It is not us against them. The world is not our enemy.
God never asked us to wage war against the lost. He told us to seek Him, to seek the Kingdom of God. To live godly upright lives. Let God be the judge of the lost, let Him be concerned with avenging His children and punishing evil. Verses 10-12 read,
“Whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit;
11 let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
The Lord doesn’t even wanting us talking smack about people. We are supposed to seek peace and pursue it, truly endeavor peace. The world hates us but we don’t hate back. We want them to know Jesus. They will only be able to see Jesus in us, if we love them as Jesus loves us. If we do the right things, the good things, and the kind things. They hate us, but we are not supposed to give them reason to hate us.
Sadly, we too often take the fact that the world will hate us and decide that gives us reason to give them motives to hate us. They do hate Christians, but it is supposed to be because they hate Christ and we are behaving like Him, not because we are smug jerks, calling them names. We do not need to give them causes to hate us. Verses 13-17 say it like this,
“Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.”
Don’t we want them to know the profound love of God? Don’t we want them to come to Christ? Why would they come to Jesus, if we, His representatives are arrogant loudmouth miscreants? Why would they want to know who Jesus is if His followers act just like they do? We are supposed to be honoring Christ. What honor is it to Him if we hit back?
Jesus suffered. He was hated, not because He did anything wrong, not because He deserved the hatred but because He loved His Father wholeheartedly, because He loved people in a way that the establishment couldn’t grasp. Jesus died for our sins. Jesus died for the sins of the world. He died so that we all could be reconciled to God and live. Verse 18-20 says,
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.”
From the times of Noah, Salvation was offered to the world, and from the times of Noah the world rejected Him. The people of Noah’s days are dead and it is too late for them. Once they die, the chance for redemption is over. But until then we can love them, we can share the Gospel with them, we can be Jesus to them. Most of the world will reject Jesus. They will choose death over life. The world hated Noah. The world hated Jesus. The world hates us. They shouldn’t hate us because we are hateful. They should hate us because we are like Jesus. They don’t want to know they are sinful. They don’t want their world turned downside up.
That can’t stop us from loving them and from living godly lives among them. God doesn’t want a single one of them to die without knowing Him. He wants them to repent and be redeemed. He wants them to know Jesus. Verses 21-22 read,
“Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.”
Remember Believer, who Jesus is. He is Awesome God. He is our Savior. Jesus saved you. He redeemed you from who you once were. He took you off the path to Hell and put you in the Kingdom of Heaven. You were once one of the lost, love them enough to give them a chance to be blessed by your life in Christ.