When studying English grammar at school, we were taught about the 'active' voice and 'passive' voice and in local politics in the 1980s, I found the passive voice very useful. For example, I could safely say something like 'it would appear that the hole was caused by poor workmanship' (passive voice) instead of the dogmatic
' poor workmanship caused the hole' ( active voice).
Sometimes Christians need to be passive and other times active, in relation to interactions with other people, and this can make life just a little difficult. When is the right time to be 'active' and 'passive'? Sometimes, Jesus' teachings still confuse me and a reading in Matthew 21:33 ff, the 'Parable of the Wicked Tenants' brought this home to me. The story concludes with the statement "he will put those wretches to a miserable death". I realise the purpose of the parable was not about social justice but this seemed a very violent end to a story, told by the most peace loving person to walk this earth.
And then there are Jesus' retorts to the Pharisees - 7 times in Matthew 23 Jesus says, 'Woe to you' and v 33 'you snakes, you brood of vipers' - not exactly politically correct by today's standards, but an apt description of what these upholders of God's law had become and what they were doing to God's law and thus to the God's people. Jesus certainly was not the 'gentle Jesus meek and mild' when the situation called for this other side of his character but notice, he only became assertive like this, not to defend himself
( such as when he was on 'trial') but to defend God's truth and how this related to people knowing God's truth - God's love and care.
My comment about ageing is that I must become more gracious as I become less tolerant and I relate this as to how I am treated by people as there are times when I feel I need to be 'active'and other times, 'passive'. I recently resigned from a social group because of bullying by committee members - all of us in our 70s and this was just so ridiculous, but rather than fight my cause, it was more peaceful to resign and move away (passive). However, when our neighbours' trees damaged our house in the cyclone last year, trees which for 8 years we have been requesting our neighbours to remove in order to prevent damage to our place, because they refused to cut down these trees, we are now taking them to court to ensure our future safety. This is being active.
However, my examples are trivial when compared to the current world scene of persecution of Christians. Indian Christians have now become a target as are Christians in northern Myanmar and Nigeria,as well as so many other parts of the world. How should Christians is these situations react? Should they be 'active' or 'passive'? From my armchair I would not even dare to suggest an answer, but from the safety of my armchair, I must at least pray for them. Matthew 16:8 reminds us that Jesus said "I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it".
'Life wasn't meant to be easy' as the saying goes, and it can sometimes be difficult to work out whether to be 'active' or 'passive' in our own given situation. However, when it comes to the horrors of the persecution of Christians it is comforting to know that Jesus will not allow Satan, in whatever form, to win. Jesus will ensure that God's truth will prevail, "For His loving kindness is great toward us, And the truth of the LORD is everlasting. Praise the LORD!" ( Psalm 117:2)