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In the conclusion of his section instructing exiles how to relate to one another, Peter teaches Christians how to relate to outsiders, those who are not followers of Jesus. He puts it this way in 1 Peter 3:9-17, Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. (10) For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; (11) let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. (12) For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (13) Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? (14) But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, (15) but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, (16) having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. (17) For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.

Although there are many lessons we can and should glean from this passage, one in particular stands out in these contentious days. Christians should not revile those who revile them. Or to take it a step further, Christians should bless those who revile them. For many of us, this is a major paradigm shift for the way evangelical Christians have traditionally operated in American life.

Elliott Clark puts it this way: “The fact is, ridiculing your opponents is the privilege of the powerful. But now, as an excluded minority, American Christians no longer have the upper hand. Maligning our cultural and religious adversaries is therefore no longer an effective strategy. The days of mocking atheists, crass joking about homosexuals, slurring Muslims, and making derogatory remarks about political rivals need to end. They never should have existed. But the church could get away with such impudence when we were the cultural majority. Not anymore.”[1]

Dear Christian, no matter how often you are maligned, misrepresented, reviled, slandered, or mocked, this is not the time to act in kind. Now is the time to bless.


[1] Elliot Clark, Evangelism as Exiles: Life On Mission As Strangers In Our Own Land (Denmark: Gospel Coalition, 2019), 72–73.