Christ is called ‘the prince of peace’ (Isaiah 9:6) and his rule will bring perfect peace to the world (Isaiah 11:6-9). However, Paul’s subject is not the future age, but the present time.
At the present time, God’s message separates people (Matthew 13:10-17; Mark 13:9-13). The first Christians, with their many troubles, understood that well (1 Corinthians 4:11-13). People hated them simply because they belonged to Christ.
In such circumstances, Paul urged Christians to be very careful how they lived. If a Christian always behaves in a good and moral way, then his enemies will have no proper reason to hate him. They might accuse him of many wrong things, but their own conscience will declare their words to be lies.
A Christian should not allow his own behaviour to be the cause of bitter feelings or anger for other people. In his business, he should not take unfair advantage of anyone. If he has authority over people, he should not deal cruelly with them. In conversation, he must not try to start bitter arguments between people. He should forgive those people who offend him (Matthew 6:14-15); he should not be lazy (2 Thessalonians 3:6-13); he should not speak lies or gossip. He should always be kind, and good, and truthful. He should obey the law; and he should respect those people who have authority over him (13:1-7).
It is not possible to be friendly with everyone. People who hate Christ, will hate Christians too (Matthew 10:25). We cannot change what God declares to be holy, or true or right; we cannot agree to do any evil act. However, often, in order to establish a friendship with someone, we do not have to carry out any wrong act. Rather, we must show love to that person - and that is a duty for Christians (Mark 12:31; Romans 13:8).
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© 2018, Keith Simons.