In many sports, but in American Football in particular, there are two sides and two particular roles on the field, offense and defense. This is true in sport, in war, in politics, in many parts of life. The role of the offense is to move forward, to gain ground, to move from a position into a stronger position. The role of defense is to stand ground, to hold firm, to not allow things to penetrate.
But what do you do when you have a position that is wrong and cannot be defended? How to you defend the indefensible? The normal response is the one that the religious leaders took, they went on the offensive. They didn’t even try to hold their position. They didn’t give logic or reason. They attacked. Even in the face of testimony from their own guard, they wanted to kill Jesus. Even in the recognition from Nicodemus that they were violating their own rules and principles, they attacked him as well.
We see this in our day and age as well and it is a factor in people staying quiet. Speak out for the truth today, and you will face attack. In some parts of the world that is a verbal attack, one that includes labels and name calling and bullying tactics. In some other part of the world it means torture, imprisonment and death. But the response is always the same, attack.
But the response of a Christian is different. Our response is to love. To not waver in right and wrong or the principles of truth, but to encourage and listen and give. When asked directly we speak boldly and with confidence, but more often our actions are prayerful, behind the scenes, patient and waiting and hoping. We give to the poor. We aid widows and orphans. We build communities. We seek justice and righteousness. But we do it for the glory of God, not for ourselves.
The overflow of living water is not a firehose that we use to douse others, it is a refreshing and joyful lake and stream, still full of power, but also approachable and comforting and fulfilling.
As we face turbulent times around the world, with attacks and protests and hatred, remember, we already hold the high ground, we already hold the keys to the palace, we are already members of the community with the mightiest King of Kings who cannot be defeated. We need not attack back nor be discouraged. Instead, we need to invite the ones who have been deceived by the enemy to come to the feast. We do not need to become defensive simply because the evil one is and always has been offensive.
The prophet, the Messiah, because of the prophecies about the Messiah in scripture and – BECAUSE HE WAS!
Nicodemus pointed out the rights provided within the law – shouldn’t he get a fair hearing?
I have spoken out against those who bully others and I’ve spoke of the unfairness and inconsistencies and bias in the application of our laws. The response is the same, it is one of attack against the one pointing out the inconsistencies instead of a response of logic to try to defend.