Wright agrees with the majority: Romans 12:14-21 shifts to a concern with outsiders, and evidently to a kind of outsider that has an impact inside. He now addresses how the community of faith should respond to its opponents and persecutors.
The answer in one crisp clause: “Bless those who persecute you.” Which is from Jesus (Matt 5:43-48). And which is not heard enough in the Church today and which is vital for following Jesus. We are to learn to respond to our enemies — however defined here — with charity and grace and hope, and not with vituperative and vitriolic cursings. Nothing embarrasses me more as a Christian than how I see some respond to those with whom they disagree.
Make every effort to live at peace with everyone; not always possible, but at least try.
Vengeance is not a personal matter; it is from God. Wright implies the courts can take care of this, too. Just don’t take the law into your own hands. Instead, feed a hungry foe, give drink to a thirsty one.
The implication in all this is that love unleashes a cycle of embracing grace in our world. Do it, Paul says.
The critical factor is this: try this — see what happens when you meet opposition with grace and goodness instead of retaliation and vengeance.
Tom can write, and I love this: “if someone in the next street dies, they should be prepared to sympathize and join the funeral procession, and if someone is celebrating, they should throw their hats in the air as well” (714).