Upon pondering this, I realized that so often my big encounters with the Lord were actually an adrenaline-laced experience of being with hundreds of people worshipping in the same place. It wasn't actually about God, it was about me being in the middle of a large event who's momentum fooled me into believing I was meeting with God. This is just my jacked up heart and mind. Anyway...
Romans 12 has officially sucker punched me in the jugular. It's this litany of evidences that are easy to succeed at every once in awhile, but certainly not all of them in the same day. This chapter piles out different ways that will evidence your faith in Christ.
Romans 12:12 (This is just one verse. Trust me people, the verses that follow will make you look up at God and scream uncle.)
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Bless them. That's an active motion. I typically just like to ignore those who persecute me. Except for the one time where I started off praying for but then started plotting ways to kill an old lady's parakeet. Usually I can just ignore them and keep moving. But this verse is calling me to bless them. To include them in my life like Jesus did to Judas. Romans talks about this as a mark of being a Christian because there is nothing in this world that tells us to bless those who persecute and hurt us. To actively seek their good. Rolling my eyes and saying 'whatever' is not actively seeking their good.
If I actually live my life this way, I would immediately feel my heart giving my head a high-five, congratulating in for trickling down all of its information into something useful. Then while I'm doing a proverbial hurky in my spirit, I would realize that my pride just canceled out all those "marks of the true Christian," that just occurred.
If I actually lived this way, the world would do a double-take at Jesus because this life He lived was so dastardly out of the ordinary. He melted the anger of mobs, white-knuckled flames being thrown as stones to an adulterous woman.
I wonder how many wars would be prevented if the church took in our enemies? Fed them warm wheat bread and soft cups of green tea. The risk in this is that there will be times that our kindness won't be reciprocated. That our thoughtfulness will drown in a pool of hate and dissension. But if we resent the thoughtfulness not being reciprocated, I think it exposes our motivations weren't in line with Jesus' in the first place.
I'm honestly not sure where my personal application in this is. I just know that for too long I've loved those who loved me back. That's bench-warming type of love. That's easy. Blessing those who persecute you requires one to man up, put on a jock strap, and love Jesus enough to take a few hits for the team.