Responding to Hostile Fire
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The games that kids play today are so high-tech that the child actually has to teach the parent how to play them. One of our directors was describing a game his teenage son taught him that simulates combat in an F-16 Fighter Jet. He said there is one aspect of the game that's really nerve-wracking. It's when this beeping sound starts going off in your "cockpit." It's the signal that an enemy pilot has locked onto you. You're about to come under some heavy fire, man! In fact, I understand something like that happens in real life aerial combat situations. Of course, the question is, what do you do when someone has locked onto you and you are under fire?
You know, that's an important question in everyday life. What do you do when someone's locked on to you and you're under fire? If you're in combat, or even in simulated combat, you instinctively fire back at the one who's firing at you. Unfortunately, we do that even when we're not in mortal combat.
We all know the feeling: someone has locked onto you, maybe your spouse, your child, or your parent. It could be a co-worker, or someone at church, or one of your critics. Someone is shooting at you. And everything in you says, "Retaliate! Fire back! Give them back what they're giving you!"
Then along comes the most radical blueprint for human relationships in history - the loving lifestyle of Jesus Christ. Who said on behalf of those who had just nailed Him to a cross, "Father, forgive them." Peter says of Him, "When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats" (1 Peter 2:23). That's in the same verses where Peter says, "Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps."
Which leads us to our word for today from the Word of God in Romans 12:17, where Christ calls us, not to a natural response to hostility, but a supernatural response! Here are our orders: "Do not repay anyone evil for evil...Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is Mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord...Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
God says, "When someone has locked onto you; when someone is shooting at you, don't shoot back!" This is so counterintuitive! It's so against our instincts! When your spouse is harsh with you, everything in you wants to blast them back. Right? When someone is criticizing or attacking you, you just want to give them some of their own medicine. When you feel shot at by your child or your parent, you want to shoot them down.
But since you gave yourself to Jesus, you've had another possibility. When someone is shooting at you, turn the controls over to Jesus! If you remain in the pilot's seat, you're eventually going to blast them. But if you say, "Jesus, it's Yours. Enable me to respond as You would," then you can avert a battle that is only going to escalate and do a lot more damage. It's amazing what can happen when hostility is greeted with gentleness, when harshness is greeted with tenderness, when anger is greeted with love and understanding.
When someone is shooting at you, you've got an incredible opportunity not to shoot them down, but to show them Jesus.