January 16

We certainly live in a fallen world. Occasionally we are reminded of this fact in very explicit and tragic ways. The shooting this past week in Arizona is one of those unwelcome reminders.

There are extremists in all camps. Whether you are talking politics or religion, business or sports, or most any other subject, it is tempting (and wrong) to judge all of a certain persuasion by a few fanatics. So I don’t want to chat about republicans or democrats, conservatives or liberals. I’d like to talk about us, who we are, first and foremost.

I’d like to talk about Christians.

We as Christians are to be “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14-16). I understand this to mean that when we engage with our culture we show values that are consistent with the life and teaching of Jesus Christ rather than the current standards of our own society.

Some say, “We should fight fire with fire!” Well, there’s a problem with that. Seems like I remember Jesus dying on a cross, rather than fighting fire with fire. And He definitely had the firepower! He also had truth and justice on His side. Yet He refused to cave to His culture, and decided instead to “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17-21). And now He calls on all who wish to be His disciple to deny yourself, take up your own cross every day, and follow Him (Luke 9:21-24).

So we pray for our communities, our nation, and our world. And we engage whenever possible. We do so, however, not with a “win at all cost” mentality, where “win” is understood as achieving my purpose in this world at this time. Jesus understood “win” to have a bigger, broader meaning, one which did not depend on Him saving His life, much less getting His way. And so you don’t blow up offices of abortion doctors or shoot representatives of Congress. But neither do you speak disrespectfully and un-Christlike about others, including governing officials. As a Christian you recognize that passages like Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-17 apply today just as much as in the first century, even when you oppose what those officials stand for. Especially when you oppose what those officials stand for. In this way, even those who disagree with us will see a different spirit in us than what they see in others. And whether our view wins the day or not, we will be faithful in being the light of the world. And it just might be that, as He did with His own Son, God uses us to overcome evil with good.

Bill Allen

Dr. Bill Allen preached at South Fork from 2005 to 2015. He received a Bachelors degree in Bible from Oklahoma Christian in 1978, a Masters in Bible from Abilene Christian (ACU) in 1988, and a Doctor of Ministry from ACU in 1992. He now preaches at the West Erwin Church of Christ in Tyler, Texas.

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