By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
When attempting to build unity, it is important to remember your actions will speak as loud as your words. The apostle Paul encourages us to make sure our actions are aligned with our words.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 (ESV): First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
If our actions are not unified with Christ, they can become stumbling blocks. While they are ultimately accountable for their actions, there are people who leave the church due to the actions of another. There are also people who never enter a church because of the actions of another. Understanding this, we know why living a life of peace and humility is essential to Christianity. You do not want to assist someone being apprehensive about being added to the church.
Recognize that Paul is living in a time when “kings and all who are in high positions” were persecuting Christians. Paul experienced firsthand the unjust rulings of those in power. He was imprisoned, beaten and eventually murdered by those in power. The same holds true for Jesus Christ. He was flogged and murdered on the cross by those in power, yet, it does not change what is expected of us.
1 Peter 4:12-14 (ESV): Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
Since Christians are supposed to rejoice in suffering, it removes our ability to change our behavior in the presence of mistreatment. As long as you are suffering in the name of Christ, know your suffering is an opportunity to share God’s glory. When you share His glory while enduring the tough times, it will be a proclamation to God’s power. On the other hand, if you retaliate or mistreat others, it will show you are no different from the next person and a hypocrite to the faith. If you live a worldly life, but proclaim to be a Christian, your behavior will turn people off to the faith. With Jesus having the desire for everyone to be saved, we must always be mindful of our behavior, ensuring it is aligned with the pattern of Jesus Christ and his apostles.