It’s sad we live in a world where we need to be wise as a serpent, and harmless as a dove. This is because we live in a world in which relationships are broken. Enemies are in place. Sad to say, even among the faithful, people sometimes live like enemies.
How do we navigate these waters? In the places in which there are no easy answers. When we’re in between a rock and a hard place. It’s not easy.
Jesus said there is a time to flee. Maybe an application of that would be to lay low as in dialing down meaning being quiet and removing one’s self from the problem as much as possible. A kind of fast (not a real fast, which biblically is about abstaining from food and sometimes water).
During that time we can confess our sins to God, asking God to search us, to search our hearts. It is nearly inevitable that when we’re sinned against we sin in return even if only in the heart. And sadly at times we may have started the cycle ourselves even if with nothing more than an attitude that was not loving in one instance.
Wise as a serpent, harmless as a dove. Both need to be kept in mind. And lived out. Of course the original context is about those proclaiming the gospel. But our lives are indeed to be a proclamation of this gospel in that we are to live out Jesus. Which means living out his death, burial and resurrection (see Rodney Reeves’ insightful book, Spirituality According to Paul: Imitating the Apostle of Christ). And indeed these hard places can be used by God to conform us to the image of Christ. As we wait for our change to come, together with others in Jesus, and for the world.