React or Respond

(Photo by Selma Komisky)

React of Respond

By Michelle Ochen

The Christian life is one that has a constant choice between two kingdoms. We were once members of the kingdom of this world, reacting to the desires of our flesh; but when we came to Christ, we were given a new citizenship into God’s Kingdom and now can train our flesh to respond to things in a manner that would exemplify Christ and His love.

Life is full of moments to choose between reacting and responding. When we react, we go with our initial thought and act out upon it, but when we choose to respond, we take our initial thought and guide it with self control to act in a way that would show love.

We see such choice exemplified through the life of Jesus. In John 8, a woman is caught in sin. The teachers of the law and Pharisees reacted by publicly humiliating her before the temple courts and asking Jesus what should be done with her. The Pharisees and teachers of the law reacted according to the moment and their interpretation of the law, but Jesus responded to her far differently.

Seeming to ignore the accusations against her, Jesus began to write on the ground and asked that only the man without sin be the first to punish the woman for her actions. Jesus responded to the woman in love and sent her away restored and with new direction to walk a different life. Jesus’ response to her sin brought her new life––ushered her out of the kingdom of this world and into the kingdom of God, whereas the leaders of the law’s reactions left her humiliated and condemned.

In the same way, our choice in daily events of reactions or responses can lead those around us to either be drawn to the kingdom of God or the kingdom of this world. One brings acceptance and grace and the other is an acceptance based on performance. God’s kingdom places our worth on what Christ has accomplished for us contrary to the world’s kingdom, which places our worth on what we can accomplish for ourselves.

When we react to others, we communicate that they are only as valuable as their actions. Therefore, if they disappoint us, they deserve the natural reaction that disappointment brings. On the contrary, when we respond to others, we communicate that they are more valuable than their actions. If they disappoint us, they do not have to bear the natural reactions but can be offered grace in exchange.

In conclusion, reactions and responses invite themselves into our lives daily. Our choice between the two is our invitation to show those around us what kingdom we will portray…God’s kingdom established on grace and forgiveness or the world’s kingdom established on consequence and performance.