“As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” (Romans 8:36)
Too many self-professed Christians are missing the power of love — and a proper understanding of the New Testament’s completion and fulfillment of the Old Testament.
Jesus didn’t defend himself, although he could have (Matt 26:53). Instead he prayed for those who murdered him (Luke 23:34). Stephen didn’t defend himself, he imitated Jesus by praying for those who murdered him (Acts 7:60). James didn’t defend himself when he was murdered with the sword (Acts 12:2). Eusebius tells us Peter and Paul died martyrs’ deaths in Rome (Ecclesiastical History, Book II Chapter XXV).
None of the Christian martyrs defended themselves. They’ve always prayed for those who persecuted them. This is what Christians do. Their love is expressed to the lost world by their unwillingness to react to hatred and violence in the same way as the lost world reacts to hatred and violence. Their love is expressed in a desire to imitate their Savior. All those who follow Christ will be persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12), sometimes even unto death and, as Christians, we are not to fight back and defend ourselves, we are to pray for those who persecute us.
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:” (1 Peter 2:21-23)
No one says this is easy to do. Not to fight back goes against everything within us. But that’s the point. I can’t react as I used to react. I can’t react as my flesh wants me to react. I have to be different. I have to be like Jesus. That’s what the lost world needs to see: a living example of the new life the crucified and resurrected Savior gives to his followers. Christians live their new lives by the power of the living Son of God, who loved us and gave himself for us (Gal. 2:20), and not just for us but for the whole world (1 John 2:2).
A life lived by the power of the Holy Spirit doesn’t look like the lives lived by people in the lost world. It doesn’t look like the life I used to live. A new life lived by the power of the Holy Spirit will look strange, unnatural, and foolish to people who don’t know Christ as their Savior.
The cross of Christ and his resurrection are foolishness to the lost world (1 Cor.1:18; Acts 17:32) . And always will be. The followers of Christ who live their lives filled with love and forgiveness for those who deserve neither will always appear foolish to the lost world.
This is the whole point. It’s not supposed to make sense to the world. The Christian’s love is supposed to look oddly different — and be strangely compelling — to those who are lost.
“God commended his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
“And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:15).
My life isn’t mine anymore. My life belongs to the one who loved me, was delivered up for my offenses, and was raised again for my justification (Romans 4:25).