Feisty Relations (Relations with Foes)

by Carolyn Hope

Once more he asked them, “Who are you looking for?” And again they replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.” “I told you that I AM he,” Jesus said. “And since I am the one you want, let these others go.” He did this to fulfill his own statement: “I did not lose a single one of those you have given me.” Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave. But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?” (John 18:7-11)

When confronted with danger, our natural response is to fight it or to run away. Jesus did neither. He stepped forward and submitted Himself as the Sacrifice for us all. He could have defeated his enemies right then and there; He didn’t. He could have lashed out in hatred or anger; He didn’t. He could have slipped away as He had done before with hostile crowds; He didn’t do that either. In bravery and compassion, Jesus remained the same person and Savior that He always was.

Peter’s response, on the other hand, was to pull out his sword and attack. In all four Gospel accounts of this scene, Jesus squelches the violent impulses of his disciples. A movement that did not start with violence and was not run by force would not end in violence or force. This is not to say that self-defense or fighting for a cause is evil; the point is simply that opposition did not change God’s plan or His heart.

When people or circumstances rise against you, do not let them change you. Whatever you do, however you respond, let it be from who you are, not from fear or pressure. Walk in your authority and the peace that has been given to you. Let your decisions be based on your character, not your emotions. Who you are is more powerful than any weapon. Whatever you do, be true to yourself, and fight for who God says you are.

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Chosen Ones: The Hostile

by Carolyn Hope

Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ. I was chosen to explain to everyone this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning. (Ephesians 3:8-9)

Paul is one of the most influential Christians that have ever lived. He wrote nearly two-thirds of our New Testament, and he started many churches on his missionary journeys, but before his conversion, Paul was the church’s most fervent of enemies. He persecuted the early Christians with zeal, hunting them down to throw in prison and even execute. Absolutely convinced that Christianity was a cult, he was determined to put an end to it.

This was the man that Jesus chose to be the apostle to the Gentiles. Of all people, Paul! That would be like choosing an ex-abortion clinic owner to be the head of the Pro-Life movement. A more similar situation would be an ISIS leader getting radically saved and then becoming a prominent leader in today’s church. It contradicts both our reasoning and our feelings.

God chooses even His enemies for His work. He doesn’t look at them with hatred, but with love and a heart to bring them into His family.

Paul recognized that he was undeserving of his calling. God’s choosing you is not a consequence of your behavior. You can’t earn a calling; it’s a gift that Holy Spirit has handed you, and He won’t take it back. Your only responsibility is to respond to the call. You are worthy. God said you were so when He chose you – and He did indeed choose you. Do not let your feelings of unworthiness hold you back from the dream in God’s heart for you.

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