The darkness of our culture has become very apparent these last few years.Things seem to be in a constant state of turbulence. People filled with bitterness and hatred - easily offended, retaliating in violence and believing they are justified in vengeance. All this fed by the self-centered message, “you have the right to be angry”.
The world has been full of darkness since the Fall, this is nothing new. Satan, a murderer from the beginning who has no truth in him, is after all the father of the unbelieving (John 8:44). His children will look like him. Social media has simply given us more opportunity to see the dark in real time. One negative result of live streaming chaos is the increase in impulsiveness. People are reacting to situations without knowing any true details. Proverbs 14:29 describes this well, “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.”
These attitudes of pride, offense, impulse, anger, revenge, unforgiveness are huge hindrances to mentoring. They will destroy relationships and damage our testimony. Though these should never characterize God’s children - inside of our church family, we sometimes look more like the world than we’d care to admit. We are shocked when people fail us, forgetting our own battles (1 John 1:8). We hastily draw conclusions and hold back mercy. We shut people out or even worse, we damage someone’s reputation with our words and say “we are simply venting”.
Praise God, He doesn’t treat His children this way. Christ came low to restore sinners. He lived perfectly to give us His record of righteousness. He willingly laid down His life to pay our debt so we could be fully forgiven. He took God’s wrath in our place. He adopted us into His family, granting us all the privileges of heirs. He gave us His Spirit, Who illuminates Scripture and conforms us back into His image. He tenderly places us in His Church where we can grow and be encouraged. And despite our on-going struggle with sin, we are the object of His eternal, attentive devotion. This is the Good News of undeserved love.
He willingly laid down His life to pay our debt so we could be fully forgiven. He took God’s wrath in our place.
And despite our on-going struggle with sin, we are the object of His eternal, attentive devotion.
It’s not wrong to feel disappointed or sad when we’re hurt, but when we react with the sharpness of the world, could it be that we have an incomplete view of the Gospel? Have we forgotten the enormous mercy and help God gave us and continues to give? Is this insufficient understanding making us blend into the darkness rather than allowing Christ’s sacrifice to motivate a powerful demonstration of God’s glory?
Look at Romans 12:9-21.
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
This passage describes Christ’s character and the traits that ought to mark a true Christian. He walked the earth, in a manner completely distinct from the world - He was peculiar (strange, unusual). God calls His children to be the same. In Scripture, He uses words like: “a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1), “separate” (2 Corinthians 6:17), “exiles” (1 Peter 1:1), “sojourners” (1 Peter 2:11), “children without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation” (Philippians 2:15), “children of light” (1 Thessalonians 5:5). We don’t live differently to earn God’s salvation; but rather, we obey out of great love for Christ - out of a new heart with changed desires. We should want to look like our Savior and reflect Him.
The gospel must be proclaimed with words but a transformed life is a compelling testimony, inside and outside the Church. The ONLY thing that would give us the ability to live out a passage like Romans 12, is a profound understanding of Christ’s extravagant forgiveness. Those in the Body will sin against one another. Those we disciple will, at times, fail and lack understanding and vice versa.
The gospel must be proclaimed with words but a transformed life is a compelling testimony, inside and outside the Church.
Instead of being surprised by patterns of sin or ignoring them, Believers can have a better perspective and hope (2 Corinthians 15:19-20). A gospel perspective will help us gently restore one another (Galatians 6:1-5), humbly confess our own offenses (James 5:16), set aside personal expectations (Philippians 2:3), give people a safe place to be vulnerable (2 Corinthians 12:9-10), generously extend mercy and forgiveness (Matthew 18:33). There is more beauty in guiding someone to godly sorrow over sin and true repentance (2 Timothy 2:25) than there is in forcefully demanding a false perfection (James 4:1-3).
Yes, boldly call your mentee and fellow Believer to holiness but display the grace that will actually help them to conquer sin (Romans 8:37). Let’s be determined to be peculiar in this angry world by loving each other well, a people consumed and focused on Christ. Commit to daily reflection on the gospel that will melt away self-righteousness and pride. This will make us a church marked by gratitude, joy, unity, and love.The bondage of our guilt and sin is gone!
For further study:
1 Corinthians 13
“The Gospel Primer” by Milton Vincent