Make The Decision To Return Good For Evil

For my weekend readers I am musing about good and evil. Not like that isn’t something new, but in the last few weeks it seems like war is more important than peace. Russia continues to bombard Ukraine, Israel—and let’s say Netanyahu and his henchmen more than the millions of Israeli people, continue the genocide in Gaza, and no doubt, the domination to take the Gaza Strip for their own. Of course, the ‘hidden’ wars of AI, social media, cyber attacks and the break-up of societies continues as well. I don’t know about you, but that is depressing!

This reminded me of something when I was just a young kid and President Kennedy was in office and the Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev was on the throne. I’m sure many of you remember the height of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. One thing I vividly remember is my father getting ready to go to war—again. His Army sniper carbine was ready—we watched him clean it for readiness. His words to us were—”it is time again to remove evil in our world.” At 9 years old we wondered what was going to happen, it was scary.

You may remember at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis; the tension was building toward what could have been the outbreak of World War III. It paralyzed us, thinking “not again, another war?” Then Nikita Krushchev sent an urgent communiqué to President Kennedy. In part, the message said:

“You and I should not now pull on the ends of the rope in which you have tied a knot of war, because the harder you and I pull, the tighter the knot will become. And a time may come when this knot is tied so tight that the person who tied it is no longer capable of untying it, and then the knot will have to be cut. What that would mean I need not explain to you, because you yourself understand perfectly what dread forces our two countries possess.”

This story reminded me of when you make the decision to return good for evil. I’m not saying Kruschev was a kind person, but he also realized his country did not need another war, and Kennedy didn’t want one either. So they chose to ‘stop yanking on the rope of conflict and making the knot in the relationship so tight that it can never be untied.’ By simply dropping your end of the cord, you are loosening the tension and preserving the possibility that the still-loose-knot might somehow be untangled by the two of you. And this, my friends, maintains the hope—however faint—that reconciliation might someday occur, such as what happened in that crisis—that ended 13 days later, thank God!

Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord!” he replied. The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.” “But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.” But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.” So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

This is a great example about our topic from Acts 9:9-17 [NLT]. No doubt there were some Christians who hated Saul with what he did. Who would have even guessed that he would now be an Apostle, preaching love and forgiveness?

Just remember that the one who treats us as our enemy today may become our brother or sister tomorrow! Jesus says to treat them today as our brother and sister. Think of the many adversaries whose faces often show up in your mind. Yes, you might be tempted to rule out any likelihood of ever having a civil relationship with them. But please, do not write off anything too quickly. Store the story of Paul’s conversion in your heart and mind and use it in these kinds of difficulty. Why? Because Paul is telling us that: Hatred writes people off; love holds out hope. AMEN.