The Christian Presence

1 Peter 3:8-9 (NLT)

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.

You may have heard this St. Francis of Assissi quote: “Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.”

Nearly short enough to fit on a bumper sticker, the saying stays with us. And frankly, it sometimes is misused as an excuse to not speak the Good News when the opportunity arises, giving the quote more play than it might receive otherwise.

St. Francis did have a point, though, one rooted in what the Apostle Peter emphasized in his letter. Every day, Christians have the opportunity through attitude and behavior to inject a little of their faith into the world.

The secular world isn’t going to pay much more than lip service to Peter’s principles. Worldliness dictates that when push comes to shove, people had better be ready to demand their rights, defend their positions, and dish out more than they receive.

As Christians, we don’t want to be pushovers to the point of accommodating evil, but on the vast majority of our days on this earth, we have the opportunity to change hearts simply by injecting blessings in the midst of conflict.

Tenderheartedness and a humble attitude do much to create a fertile environment for the gospel, and a few words can then become very effective.

Lord, as we are confronted today by conflict, let us be the ones who bring calm and blessing to the situation. Amen.

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