13 Who will harm you if you are zealous for good? 14 But happy are you, even if you suffer because of righteousness! Don’t be terrified or upset by them. 15 Instead, regard Christ the Lord as holy in your hearts. Whenever anyone asks you to speak of your hope, be ready to defend it. 16 Yet do this with respectful humility, maintaining a good conscience. Act in this way so that those who malign your good lifestyle in Christ may be ashamed when they slander you. 17 It is better to suffer for doing good (if this could possibly be God’s will) than for doing evil.
I had a conversation with someone recently about a situation where they were super angry. And they had good reason to be. The hurt and the damage done were very clear.
We were talking about how to respond. I was in favor of several very strong courses of action – which I spoke of as “nuclear options.” I was angry enough on their behalf that I thought everything should be on the table, no matter how harsh.
But then my friend stopped to consider my advice. “Remember, I still have to be able to sleep at night,” they said.
There are so many times we wish we weren’t constrained by our Christian values. There are so many times we wish we could fight back against hurts, fight back against injustices in the same way the rest of the world would.
But Christians can’t do scorched-earth. Christians can’t do nuclear options.
Jesus, facing his betrayal and arrest, says to his disciples in Matthew 26:53: “Don’t you know that if I asked my Father he would at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” Jesus considered the nuclear option and rejected it. He went to the cross instead.
“It’s better to suffer for doing good than doing evil,” Peter says. Indeed. At least you can sleep at night!
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Is there a situation in your life right now where you are so angry that you are tempted to pursue a “nuclear” option? Can Peter’s words help talk you down from that?
Prayer: Lord, often we find ourselves so angry that we want to lash out at those who have hurt us. Remind us that you call us to a different way of living. You call us to grace. You call us to forgiveness. You call us to love. Help us when your way seems so difficult that we want to ignore your teachings altogether. Call us to put down our weapons and turn back to you. Amen.