It is easy for us to develop a disregard ¬– and even hate – for those who either treat us unfairly or disagree with us on a cellular level. It has become commonplace in our country for an individual to hate those with worldviews, political persuasions, and ideologies that conflict with his or her own convictions. The purposed argument that “justifies” such hate is that the conflicting positions impose on individual freedoms. As a Christian, how should I respond to those who disagree with me and/or treat me unfairly?
It should be no surprise to the Christian that Jesus suffered both of those worldly realities during His time on earth. In accordance with Christ’s example of living through it, Peter says, “Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God” (1 Peter 2:16). In context, Peter is telling us to not use our freedom in Christ to justify sinfully disobeying human institutions. And then he gives four commands that impact our relationship with everyone, including human institutions and the church. “Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king” (2:17). Two of those commands are easily agreeable: love the brotherhood and fear God. I don’t know any Christians who disagree with those commands on a surface level; but, honor all people and the king? What about overtly evil people and overtly evil kings?
In the world, there is no doubt that there are people who stand for corrupt positions that contradict our Christian worldview; however, that does not give us the right to be unkind or disrespectful. In fact, we can tell people the truth without being unkind or disrespectful. This means that we might be called names without returning the favor. It also means that we might undeservedly suffer without retaliation. Whatever the cost, God wants others to look upon our character and glorify God as the result (2:12). Let’s not give the world a leg to stand on by responding to disagreements and unfair treatment in the same manner that they do.