Have you ever felt like letting loose with your fists when you are suddenly faced with a dangerous confrontation and the next moment you feel like taking to your heels and running away? You swallow hard. Your heart races and your breathing becomes harder and deeper, pumping oxygen into your muscles.
This is the ‘fight or flight’ response – one of the most primitive instincts that are hard-wired into our physiology. These built-in impulses can save our lives, especially if there are real physical dangers. But often in today’s world the dangers (road rage is one prime example) are not real and we feel tired by the waves of steroids and adrenaline that wash over us with every stress situation.
Many times in my life I have done either one of these and lived to regret it. As Christians we need not be driven by the primordial reactions that we share with animals. We can breathe a prayer and the Lord will help us do the right thing in any situation. Gideon and his three hundred men did not fight nor did they flee; they stood and watched the Lord fight for them.
There is an even greater response: stand and face the music. Stand and suffer. This is the divine response, and this is what our Lord did. The disciples were ready to fight, in fact Peter was already drawing blood with his sword, but an instant later the equally base flight response had taken over and they all fled.
What happens when people attack our character with gossip? Do we withdraw into sullen, resentful silence or do we give back, slander for slander? Do we let our basic nature take over or do we exhibit a new nature that reflects the image of our Creator?
“But now put them all away: anger, rage,…seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator” (Col.3:8- 10).