Do you ever feel like taking revenge when someone does something against you? Do you ever feel angered or hateful against someone who does not believe as you do or even opposes what you believe?
Let me give you an example. Last week I attended a conference and for one session I sat next to this person and we got to chatting. I told this person that I wrote a Christian blog and this person then told me they wrote a psychic/spiritualist blog. The person then made the comment that, “It seems we are two sides of the spiritual coin.”
So let me ask you, should I hate this person because they are opposed to what I believe? Should I shun them or do what the Apostles John and James proposed to do to the town that did not receive them in the above scripture?
Flame from the sky
Jesus and his band of followers were rejected from a Samaritan town they approached on their way to Jerusalem. James and John were so indignant they said to the Lord, “Lord, do you want us to bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?” (Verse 54)
So in my situation should I have likewise condemned this person who, it could be argued, is a lot more opposed to the Lord than those Samaritans were? Should I have sought the Lord to send fire from the sky to consume this person?
I would be interested in your thoughts and opinions so please provide any comments you might have. But let me also explain my thinking on this matter and you can tell me if you agree or think I should have acted differently.
Who has the right to judge?
Jesus did not judge people and condemn them for he taught that they are judged by someone else. He said, “Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; it is Moses who accuses you, on whom you set your hope.” (John 5:45) In this he is saying that it is the law given by Moses by which people are judged and condemned. Jesus did not judge so, I ask you, why should I?
But do I have the right then to hate this person and thus condemn them for their opposite position to the truth? No I don’t. Jesus taught us that the Christian position is different to what was done under the law of Moses. Moses taught that, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But Jesus taught, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45)
To be a follower of Jesus is to raise the bar to a higher level. We are being trained to be like Him and that means we also must love our enemies.
Is revenge sweet?
So how should I behave when confronted with this person who was a spiritualist? I should hate the deeds and hate the values this person stood for, but not hate the person themself. That is not for me to judge, it is the Lord’s decision.
How am I to know what the Lord is doing with this person? There is no doubt they are seeking matters of the spirit, it’s just that they have gone down the completely wrong road. But if my behaviour towards this person is to shun and judge them with anger or revulsion, then how is that a good witness for Christ? Who knows whether my good behaviour may cause this person to re-evaluate their thoughts about Christians and Christianity?
But if they do not change their ways, that is the Lord’s work and place to judge. And any person who does oppose him will be judged. But it is not my place to take revenge and I should leave it to the Lord for he said, “If possible, so far as it depends upon 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.” No, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:18-21)
I truly hope this person turns and sees they have gone down the wrong path. I hope this for all of mankind, but I know most will not come to God. In this situation I continued to speak to this person, but not about spiritual matters. I was unable to move away, and so stayed until the end of the session after which I left.
The disciples sought fire to come from heaven to consume the Samaritan town, but Jesus rebuked them saying, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man came not to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” (Verse 55 footnote)
We as Christians are of the spirit of God and our charge is to do good to all and not seek vengeance. Vengeance from God will come at the right time and in the right measure for he will repay every person according to what they have done, said and where they stand.
So tell me, what would you have done differently?