“Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.” (1 Peter 3:15-17)
Being a follower of Christ in a world that has become increasing secularized is more of a challenge than ever. From the early days of Christianity, being a witness to the faith involved misunderstanding, suffering and persecution in varying degrees. Even though Christians are encouraged to “turn the other cheek” to those who assault with words and actions, it is very hard to be gentle and reverent in the thick of a skirmish involving religious disagreements. Though it might not come naturally, we are entrusted with the hard work of offering reconciliation to all, as St. Paul explains:
“So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)
Resisting retaliation is hard and cannot be accomplished without God’s grace. To engage in dialogue with those who oppose us while not “counting their trespasses” against us is a tall order. We can be confident as we reach out as ambassadors for Christ that God will bless our endeavors to bring reconciliation to the world.