Hate, old lies, and the gentleness of Jesus + Philippians 4:5 coloring page

Bible coloring page Philippians 4:5

Sometimes a confluence of messages and events press upon me, like trickling mountain streams that together form a rushing river. I'll try to explain these streams I find converging today.

The events in Charlottesville, VA this past weekend weigh heavy on me, not just because the city is only a skip over the mountain from us, but also because I care about racial reconciliation in this country, especially our role as Christians in this work of God's will being done "on earth as it is in heaven." I'm deeply disturbed by the ideology of hate and racial superiority on clear display by the organizers and participants of last weekend's rally.

I told my daughters about Charlottesville and what Neo-Nazis believe, and my oldest responded, "Not that again!" Last year's overview of World War II is still fresh in our minds.

(If you'd like some ideas about how to talk to your kids about race and Charlottesville, JellyTelly shared a great collection of resources HERE. I appreciated this one, and I've also written about the topic here. I also appreciate the writer Trillia Newbell, who speaks wisely and graciously about race. You can read her writing here and here.)

Yes, my daughters, "again." The serpent is old, but not senile. He is a good recycler and repackager of lies. He himself is on the side of no one but his own, the side of destruction and death (John 10:10).

If the serpent is the author of hate-fueled movements of this kind (think the Khmer Rouge, Rwandan genocide, and the Holocaust) then the battle is a spiritual one not to be defeated with insults or shame tactics or matching hate with hate. I feel we may end up like the disciples when they tried to cast a demon out of a boy it had been tormenting since childhood:  
"And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him [Jesus] privately, 'Why could we not cast it out?' And he said to them, 'This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.'" (Mark 9:28-29 ESV)
One stream.

On Sunday, our pastor taught through Philippians 4. We read ""Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand" (Philippians 4:5 ESV). "Reasonableness" (in the Greek the adjective epieik─ôs used as a noun in this verse) is also translated moderation (as in the KJV), forbearance, and gentleness. As an adjective it is translated gentle, patient, suitable, equitable, fair, mild. According to Vine's Expository Dictionary of the New Testament, it is "in contrast to contentiousness."

Another stream.

Reading through the book of Matthew with my kids, we came to this passage where Jesus quotes Isaiah's prophecy about the Messiah:
"Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope."" (Matthew 12:18-21 ESV)
Jesus is the King who is "gentle and lowly in heart" (Matthew 11:29), who, without quarreling or even extinguishing a smoldering wick, brings "justice to victory."

Another stream.

All that brings me back to this: what do believers like homebody, homeschooling, church member me do in the face of this evil? What does it look like to imitate my Jesus who is completely gentle and non-bruised-reed-breaking in this contentious culture of mine?

One more stream:

Eric Metaxas's Dietrich Bonhoeffer biography (listed on my resources page) was one of my summer reads. As I read, I had the eerie feeling that Bonhoeffer's story and the larger story of German Christians was important for us today. Germany was home to Martin Luther, the reformation, and thus Lutheranism. Anyone grow up singing "A Mighty Fortress is our God"? It was written by Luther in German! It seems an unlikely place to have birthed the horror of the Holocaust.

The Nazi party needed the church's support to move ahead politically, but at the same time they hated the gentleness of Jesus and the call to lay day one's life and rights for the sake of Jesus and the good of others and the Gospel. They considered that aspect of Christianity un-German. In the end, they didn't need the church's approval so much as they needed the church to remain divided and inactive in their opposition to Nazi party's political plots and thinly veiled (for a time) violence. Many in the church compromised Gospel truth for political expediency and security. 

If we can learn anything from the German church, it is that the Church must not be afraid or slow to act against oppression and injustice.  Fear of doing the wrong thing kept many German Christians from doing anything, which then left them with only impossible choices once evil had secured power.

I don't pretend to have a prescription for how believers should respond today, but maybe our calling hasn't changed, our calling to:

1. Be the Church united, not just individuals. 

2. Pray and resist anxiety (Philippians 4:6).

3. Stand up for the oppressed and promote justice.
 "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8 ESV)
4. Preach the Gospel in every season. 
"Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching." (2 Timothy 4:2 ESV) 
5. Do everything in the Spirit and power of Jesus, in gentleness and respect because we see ourselves as the chief sinners (saved by grace alone) who have often neglected kindness, justice, and humility.
"But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect." (1Peter 3:14-15 ESV)
Please know I'm not trying to pick sides politically; I only want to see the bride of Christ act like her Savior, Jesus. I want Jesus to known and honored with our gentle and respectful lives, not reviled because of our unreasonableness and contentiousness. I want to see the church fearless, because we are the ones who have the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead (Romans 8:11).

Today's printable Bible verse coloring page is from Philippians 4:5 (in English, Spanish, and a blank version for adding another language). You can download your page by clicking on the images below!*

PRAYING the Word
Jesus, may we your church body be known for our gentleness and respect towards all men. May we honor you as Lord and always be prepared to speak the Gospel. Forgive us for being known for anything else. Forgive us for letting fear keep us from acting in faith. Use us as salt and light in our decaying and dark world. Make us a city on a hill, not a candle snuffed under a basket. 

QUESTIONS to consider:
1. Are you known for your gentleness and respect for others? 
2. How might you better reflect the nearness of your Savior? 
3. How might God be calling you, as a member of the body of Christ, to act as salt and light in our culture?

*I'm so happy for you to enjoy my coloring pages and printables for your personal (not commercial) use! Use for Bible studies, church groups or events, and Sunday school classes are all fine! If you're in doubt, I'm happy to answer any questions. All artwork and photos are copyright Marydean Draws. If you share this, you're awesome (!), and as a courtesy,  please link back to this post and not the PDF file. Thank you!!

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