It has been a crazy week in America, featuring one of the most brazen terrorist attacks on civilians since 9-11-01, followed by one of the most watched and riveting man-hunts in American history. Two men, fueled by an ideology where mass murder is acceptable brought a city to its knees, and cost the state and the nation millions. Often we’re left wondering what on earth can we do in the face of such evil? What is the correct response? Are we allowed to respond in righteous anger or do we need to turn the other cheek?

Romans 12:17 puts it this way, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.” So what does that look like. When Jesus was crucified and his murder was at first glance a great triumph for evil, He defeated evil simply by defying death. There was no revenge, there was no great reckoning for those who took His life, there was a simple act of defeating evil with good, the Resurrection. What Satan planned for evil, God turned around and made into the ultimate triumph.

What about the early church? They faced terrible localized persecution, and their response was to scatter throughout and beyond the Roman Empire and bring their message of the Gospel with them. There was no rebellion, no armed conflict, simply an act of obedience to the Great Commission which resulted in a revolution of the hearts throughout most of the known world at the time. What was a great act of evil became the largest faith group in the world involving billions of people.

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During the Crusades the church took a different approach. In the face of the expanding Arab empires they decided to fight back and engage in Holy Wars. Instead of responding to the onslaught of perceived evil with a missional approach to bring light and the Gospel into that part of the world, they decided to respond with the sword. The results can still be seen today and we are still paying the heavy price in the Middle East and right here at home for this un-Christlike response.

And what about us? The excuse often heard arguing that abortion should be legal for instances of incest and rape, because the woman has had something traumatic done to her and her and the child should not be forced to live with the consequences of another human being’s evil actions. But the same principle found in Romans 12:17 applies. You can only defeat evil by an act of good. The greatest triumph would be for that child to grow up to be a godly individual and good contributor to society, to be given a chance at life to turn something of great evil into something of great good.

So how do we as Christians need to respond to people who hate us and want us destroyed? I would assert that the formula has not changed since Christ first demonstrated it for us. We need to respond to the dark with light. Not with retaliation, not by wiping out those who seek our destruction, but instead by bringing the Gospel of Christ to where they are. The places that hate the followers of Christ the most are the places who have the least access to the message of Christ, and are in essence living in darkness. Lets change that instead of trying to change ideology by brute force. The love of Christ is a force that cannot be defeated by violence. This does not mean we need to become doormats and allow ourselves to be destroyed. It is completely justifiable to seek justice after being attacked, but when revenge or retaliation is our motivation, we steal from God the chance of displaying the grace and mercy that Christians have been shown and should be willing to share.

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