But Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
As the war in Ukraine continues the highlighted words in our passage today hit home with a particular force. That is the big picture but at the smaller local and personal level the impact should be the same.
We live in a fallen (from the order that God created) world, and as a result of the fall, in a broken world which manifests itself in man’s inhumanity to man at every level. The geopolitical conflicts which are raging, often unnoticed when they are far away and not immediately affecting us personally, are inevitable and ultimately, as our passage hints, only God can solve them, but this does not absolve us of involvement as Christians.
We are called to be different. Read the highlighted words again. How we are called to live here is profoundly countercultural in so far that the culture in which we live as ‘strangers and exiles’ 1 Peter 2.11, is almost entirely secular. But that is what we are called to do.
We will each have to grapple with our thoughts and feelings with regard to the appropriate response to the invasion of Ukraine for I suggest that we cannot be neutral but need to form our response in the light of God’s Word. This is not a simple exercise and will likely cause differences even among committed Christians and close friends and it is such differences and indeed any differences which we are called to handle in the light of this passage. Most of the time this will be straight forward but because we are fallen human beings when we will need to apply these words more urgently.
This is how the true Christian should live!
Let us be seen to be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone thus bringing glory to God.