Jesus is the model for the Christian’s life. He advanced His kingdom through the power of love and self-sacrifice rather than the typical tactics of the kingdoms of this world. The kingdoms of the world are built upon power, wealth, control, and force. Christ built His kingdom upon an entirely different foundation. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spelled out the upside-down principles of His kingdom by blessing the poor, the mourning, the meek, and the hungry (Matthew 5:3–6).
In His life, Jesus associated with the blind, the lame, lepers, the deaf, and the poor (Luke 7:22)—the outcasts of society. He urged His followers to do the same (Luke 14:13). His kingdom wouldn’t be built because of the wise and mighty. Instead, God chose the foolish and weak things of this world to shame the mighty (1 Corinthians 1:26, 27).
Through weakness and apparent failure, Jesus was able to redeem humanity from sin and triumph over death. God works through death and resurrection (John 12:23, 24). The followers of Jesus are to walk the same path of death and resurrection that Jesus trod.
This means that when we have been wronged, and the desire for vengeance is kindled in our hearts, we should trust that God will deal with the unjust in the judgment (Romans 12:19). Instead of seeking revenge, we should seek to bless our enemies by caring for their needs. If they are hungry, we should feed them. If they are thirsty, we should give them a drink (Romans 12:20). By following the upside-down ways of Jesus’ kingdom, we will heap burning coals on the heads of our enemies (Romans 12:20). This doesn’t mean that they will suffer a physical judgment. It means that they will feel pangs of guilt and shame because of their evil behavior. The kind treatment of our enemies may well be just what they need to be confronted with the depth of their sin and guilt. In this way, rather than being overcome by evil, we are to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
When we are wronged and choose to live out the principles modeled in the life of Jesus, we are embodying what it means to be a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). We provide a window into the sacrificial death of Jesus and are confronting our enemies with the power of the gospel. Hopefully, it will lead to repentance and faith in Christ.