Read 1 Peter 2:12
12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbours. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honourable behaviour, and they will give honour to God when he judges the world. (NLT)
Many of us are concerned at the decline of good manners. Old patterns of etiquette seemed to have disappeared. Rudeness is common, courtesy is uncommon. Given that Christians are to be non-conformists, representatives of Jesus, we can legitimately expect Christians to be examples of courtesy and civility.
It is not always the case. Those Christians who embark on crusades against real or perceived dangers in society are themselves in danger. Of course we stand up for Jesus, of course we speak against that which denies Jesus. But we dare not do so with arrogance or bitterness or hatred.
It is so easy to dehumanise those with whom we disagree. It is so easy to feel as if we are morally superior. If we succumb to this sort of thing it is then easy to hit out as if we have to defeat our enemy. All is fair in love and war!
But those who oppose us are human beings, and we who oppose them are flawed and sinful just like them. Civility comes as we recognise our shared humanity, as we recognise our shared fallibility. A bit more humility and awareness doesn’t hurt when it comes to combating social ills.
Awareness of our common humanity can lead to much needed yet uncommon courtesy. And as our text reminds us, may also lead to the salvation of those whom we so intensely oppose.