My observation is that the broader culture, as a whole, is a “get-even,” retaliatory culture. If someone does us wrong the inclination is to “sue ‘em,” “stab in the back,” discredit them or find another way to “get even.” We’re kind and loving to our friends – those who are “nice to us” (but even that operates with a short memory) but we’re retaliatory to our enemies. It’s just how things are… It’s the cultural climate. Nothing has made this more evident than the recent political climate… “Nuff said!”
That’s not the set of values – the “cultural climate” – that ought to characterize followers of Jesus and those who claim to embrace “Kingdom values” however! Here’s what Jesus had to say about it in His great “Kingdom manifesto” that we call “the Sermon on the Mount” (I read and reflected on it again just this morning during “coffee with the Lord”)…
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven! For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. If you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors [those thought of as vile sinners] do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles [the irreligious] do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect!” (From Matthew 5:43–48 ESV)
So here is what I prayed sincerely – from my heart – this morning after reading that passage! “Oh Lord, help me to behave like a child of Your Kingdom and not like a child of the broader culture! Help my righteousness to be remarkable and authentically characteristic of Your Kingdom (see Matthew 5:20)! Oh Lord, work within me, and instill Kingdom values in my heart and life!