Should we set boundaries with people?
Jesus said we are called to forgive and love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us, and carry our crosses.
During his ministry on earth Jesus did not set boundaries for himself. He dealt with people from all social stations including Pharisees, tax collectors, and “sinners” (Mark 2:15-17). When the Pharisees asked why he ate with tax collectors and “sinners” Jesus answered, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17) It was Jesus’ mission to revive and encourage those who admitted their sinfulness and their need for mercy and forgiveness. This time of Jesus’ ministry was special for the nation of Israel because the Messiah was in their midst and was calling them to repentance.
Jesus had no need to set boundaries, as his mission was to preach the kingdom message to both believers and unbelievers. Although the mission of his followers during the Gospel Age is also to preach the good news, we are to preach it to those who have a “hearing ear.” “And he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God. . . .If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as testimony against them.” (Luke 9:2 & 5)
We must always remember that it is not our mission to try to “fix” the world, as that will be the work of the Millennial Kingdom. Our focus should be to perfect our characters, sacrifice our wills in order to do the will of God, and separate ourselves as much as possible from the world with its evils and allurements. It is important to note that some causes in the world are good ones. However, these good causes may take away time from our main objective, which is to prove worthy to be part of the bride of Christ.
The formula for making our calling and election sure in order to attain the divine nature is outlined for us in 2 Peter 1:3-11. Furthermore, if we do not set boundaries for ourselves we are at peril of gradually drifting back into the sinful world from which we came. The Apostle Peter tells us,
“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. . . . Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:9 & 12)
Is the evil that we are to rebuke only of an interpersonal nature or would it include a broader more universal evil? Surely if a broader evil is in our midst we may find ourselves in a position where speaking out against it and even pursuing a course of action our only options, since we are called to righteousness. For example, would we not try to hide or protect innocent people who were being persecuted by an evil regime? Of course we would.
The point we are making is that although we would not take up arms to fight such a regime, we would, nevertheless, act in accordance with Christian principles and assist those who are suffering, even if we might be risking our lives to do so. As we are helping the oppressed, we are also reminded to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44) and to bless those who persecute us (Romans 12:14). The Apostle Paul tells us not to take revenge and not to be overcome with evil, but to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:17-21). God has promised that those who have done evil will face consequences and have to atone for their actions during the great Day of Atonement (Judgment Day) yet to come. Therefore, do not repay anyone evil for evil. If it is possible, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge. “For it is written, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
Should we “stand up” against evil? As Christians we need to choose how and when we “stand up” against any evil, be it interpersonal or one of a broader nature. God has given his people boundaries and we must be very careful that we do not cross them. The good news is that God has promised that a new day is coming when all manner of evil will be exposed, evildoers will face consequences for their past actions, and God’s ultimate judgment will prevail throughout the entire earth.
For more on how to set boundaries with challenging people in our lives listen to, “How Do You Deal With Toxic People In Your Life?”