“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse… If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”Romans 12:14, 18
Jesus’ radical ethical demands on us say that we are to love our enemies. Could anything be more contrary to expected human behavior? When we learn of Christians around the world being persecuted and killed for their faith, how do we love those enemies?
But perhaps we need to bring Paul’s teaching closer to home. In some ways it is easier for us to pray for an enemy on the other side of the world than it is to seek peace in situations right at hand. Think of the neighbor who has offended you, the boss who keeps overlooking you for a job promotion, the family member you’ve been at odds with for years, the person you don’t like in the pew in front of you on Sunday, the friend you’ve held a grudge against. Have you done any work to live at peace with those God has put in your life?
Remember the context of this passage: the mercies of God. In all the ethical demands of Romans 12, consider God’s overflowing, monumental mercy. You’ll find that because of it, you can bless and not curse those who persecute or oppose you.
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)