“When they call us names, we say, ‘God bless you’”.
1 Cor 4:12 EHP
The late Rev Dr W.E. Sangster grew up in the eastern parts of London. He wrote, “My father watched the rise of the Salvation Army and observed at close quarters the scurrilous attacks upon the early Salvationists by the Skeleton Army. Composed for the most part of bibulous thugs, the Skeleton Army bore down on the Salvationists whenever they assembled and pelted them with filth and stones, inflicting upon them, at times, the most serious harm. Outside the ‘Eagle Tavern’ in City Road, London, a Salvationist was offering Christ to the people one day when a half-drunk man came out of the public house and, with one savage blow, knocked the preacher from his box. As he fell, the soldier of Christ struck his head against the curb with such force that everyone thought he was dead. Then he came round, staggered to his feet, and saw, through his swimming eyes, the brute who had done it – almost sobered now with fright. Raising his hand in love, he said: ‘God bless you’, and resumed his address. My father witnessed the incident” (W.E. Sangster, The Pure in Heart, p128).
Jesus was not the only person to suffer violent attack and to respond with love. Stephen was the first martyr. For ministering to the poor and for preaching the gospel he was stoned to death. In 64 A.D. the Roman emperor Nero ordered a persecution against Christians in Rome. More were to come. Many Christians, leaders especially, have been attacked, heckled, cursed and sworn at. Some still are. And many have managed to be magnanimous to their opponents. It is a mark of sainthood.
Lord, help me to be gracious when facing opposition.