– Robert Murray McCheyne
When others who work with us or are family members who know us see what we’re going through, and yet see us keep our joy, that is a powerful witness for God. How do we suffer in front of unbelievers? Do we whine or complain, or say, “We trust God in all of this.” Which more easily draws others to Christ? Obviously it is when we suffer but still have the joy of the Lord pouring out of our lives.
It’s hard to love those who hate us, but that’s our calling. God loved us first before we ever loved Him (1st John 4:19), so we should feel compelled to love others, whether they deserve it or not, because neither did we deserve God’s love as He loved us while we were still His enemy (Rom 5:10). That is our calling.
Jesus didn’t respond to His persecutors the way they treated Him, rather He tells us, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt 5:44-45). If we love those who are our enemies and pray for our persecutors, Jesus said we are more like God because God also “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt 5:45).
We are not to hate our enemies, but rather, as Jesus says, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27), and in fact, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head” (Rom 12:20). If this doesn’t confuse unbelievers, I don’t know what will. Give them what they don’t deserve, just as God gave us what we didn’t deserve (Eph 2:8-9).
The Christians should be the type of person that makes it easy for unbelievers to know God. They should see clear evidence of Jesus living in us and less evidence of a sinful life. A clear witness can bring the light of the gospel into dark places so that others might see the light that is found only in Christ.