Tag Archives: peace

Desire reconciliation, not revenge

lightstock_160956_medium_user_3963721“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” 

-Matthew 5:38-39

The way of Jesus Christ is often counter-intuitive, often counter cultural. The way of the world is to get back at those who have wronged us. And why is that? It’s because human nature instinctively drives us to defend ourselves and we feel a sense of entitlement to seek an “eye-for-an-eye.” The way of Jesus, though, is to forgo our entitlement and let go of our right to get even.

It’s hard, isn’t it? Think about the last time someone did something to you that was deserving of revenge. What did you do? Did you store up resentment? Did you take action to get what you deserve? Or did you turn the other cheek? Depending on your answer, I would ask you how you felt about your decision. Did it give you peace? Did it help your relationship? Did either of you benefit from your choice?

God isn’t just about do’s and don’ts or listing off rules to make us unable to do anything. He’s actually very concerned with our character, with our relationships, and with our spiritual maturity. Giving up the right to seek revenge, even when no one would fault you for doing so, isn’t about being weak. It’s ultimately about having the peace of God. It’s about having the character of Christ. And it’s about reconciliation with others.

This doesn’t mean to become a door mat or to accept abuse, but it does sometimes mean sacrifice. It’s not easy, but it wasn’t easy for the one sinless man who ever walked this earth to be executed for wrongs that He didn’t commit either. Next time you face the option of getting even or getting peace, pray for guidance. Choose the way of Christ.

Peace with God

Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

What do you think of when you think of justification through Christ? Do you think of how your sins have been forgiven? They have (Colossians 1:14). Do you think of how you are now lead by Jesus who is your Lord? You are (John 10:27). Do you think of how you’ve now put off your old self and put on an entirely new self? You have (Colossians 3:9). You’re a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). One thing many of us fail to think about, however, is that we have peace with God through Jesus. Oh, I’m not talking about how we’re a little more settled and a little less high strung now. Those things are true too. But, we were once the enemies of God (James 4:4) and now we are at peace with Him.

This word, “peace”, it carries with it so many thoughts, so many feelings, so much nuance. We use it in so many contexts to mean so many things. But this word, this εἰρήνην in the original language, it does not simply mean that we have an absence of anxiety. It means we have an absence of war. Jesus ushered in the treaty when He died on that cross and rose again. He allowed us to walk up to the table with God and sign the agreement, if we so choose, to be at peace. To be God’s ally. It’s then that we find rest and “peace” with all those other connotations.

As followers of Christ, we’ve now been adopted into the very family of God (John 1:12). We’re no longer strangers who battle against our Creator, but children who can communicate with our daddy. We’re not enemy combatants, constantly worried about fighting the adversary that can’t be defeated. Now, we’re on God’s side and He’s on ours. It’s because of Jesus. Because He justified us with His blood, we are given this opportunity. Because of Him, we can lay down our arms and cross over to the other side. And there we find peace.

Incorruptible love

Ephesians 6:23-24 Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.

There are few things as awe-inspiring as the love of God that He showed in Jesus Christ. When God put on flesh and dwelled on the earth, He professed His love in a way that is hard to understand, but powerful to feel.

His love is incorruptible, and since we love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19), ours ought to be incorruptible as well. If it’s real, and it’s true, then there is nothing that can stop it. We know that there’s nothing that can stand between us and the love of God (Romans 8:38-39).

God’s love comes with some things, like peace and grace. You want to really know peace? Experience God’s love for you. You want to really know what grace is? Turn to the Father in your lowest moments. He’s real and He loves you. Don’t take it for granted, bask in it. Breathe it in and let it fill you with awe.

The fruit of the Spirit – Peace

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the spirit is…peace

Love…joy…and now peace. The fruit of the spirit begins with three very related attributes that a Christ follower should exemplify. Related because the first leads to the second, and the second leads to the third. Without love, we would have no joy; and with no joy, we could have no peace. This means that, indirectly and directly, we cannot have peace without love.

Peace is a byproduct. If one merely strives for peace, but does not achieve the other fruit of the Spirit, peace will not be reached. Much the same can be said for the remainder of the fruit. And it all starts with love.

Peace can be a very elusive thing in our time. With our world constantly growing more busy, one can barely find the time to think about peace, let alone obtain it. It doesn’t help that we’re told from every source around us that we should only look out for ourselves and our own pleasure. The lie of the world is that we will gain peace by seeking the things of this world and thinking only of selfish ambition. But peace will never be reached in this way.

True peace, the kind that Christ promises, cannot be caught by trying to catch peace. No, it is a byproduct of a Christ-centered attitude and heart. When we follow after the will of God, when we love others, when we help those in need, when we exemplify love and have joy, we will get peace. The peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7) will be ours if we seek the Lord first and foremost in our lives.

God’s people watch their mouths

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

One of the most powerful parts of the human body is really not that big. The tongue has the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21). We can make someone’s day or we can ruin their day. We can glorify God or we can bring disgrace to Him with the way we speak.

It’s God’s intention that His people would speak life to others, but especially to other believers. The message we send the world with the way we treat others is loud and long-lasting. If we treat each other badly, it doesn’t communicate grace to a world so desperately in need of it. In contrast, when we encourage and build up others, everyone around us can see the grace of God working out in our lives.

Encouraging words are beneficial to the whole body of God in the same way that ugly words hurt the whole body. Our words can either be the poison that leads to a slow death or the medicine that brings healing. If we’re after unity in the family of God, we have to choose our words wisely. We have to rely on the Holy Spirit to help us.

May we all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19).

In the bond of peace

Ephesians 4:3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

A reading of the New Testament will lead anyone to conclude that God is very concerned with unity among His people. Unity was even one of the main things that Jesus prayed for in the Garden of Gethsemane as He prayed for you and me. That being the case, we should also be concerned with unity within the church.

This unity doesn’t mean that we all agree on all things. Christians are going to end up with different interpretations of Scripture, with different doctrines and practices, and different conclusions about the non-essential elements of the faith. But if we maintain the unity of the Spirit, we maintain a bond as brothers and sisters.

What does it take to achieve this unity? First and foremost, it requires us to extend the same grace to others that we have received from the Father. That’s difficult on human terms, but only with humility, gentleness,  patience and forgiveness can true peace be present. We can disagree on things, but we must do it as a family, not as enemies.

One new Man

Ephesians 2:15-16 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

One of the amazing effects of Christ’s work on the cross to save us is the unity that comes through reconciliation. He didn’t just die for me and He didn’t just die for you, He died for us and He prayed before His work was completed that we would be united (John 17:21). He accomplished what He set out to do, and that included bringing us all under the banner of Christ.

The initial work was to unite Jews and Gentiles, but today there are continued effects in that people of different backgrounds and denominations can still be intimately united by the gospel as we’ve all been reconciled to God and to each other.  Jesus didn’t just earn us peace with God, but also peace with our fellow believers.

We don’t always see this in practice, but it grieves the heart of God to see His people fighting amongst each other. He didn’t reconcile us to himself and adopt us all into His family so we could fight like we’re enemies instead of brothers and sisters. It’s ok to disagree, but it’s not ok to disregard what God intended to unite us.

 

He is our peace

Ephesians 2:14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility

Jesus Christ not only brings peace into our lives through ending our hostility toward God, our separation from Him, and our bondage to sin, He himself is our peace. He bring us peace because there is no other way.

When we read things in God’s Word such as “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1), or “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14), and other such reminders, it’s hard not to have peace.

Next time you find yourself anxious, fearful, feeling condemned, or without peace, just think about what’s been done for you. Think about the victory that’s been won by Jesus to reconcile you to the Father. Think about your adoption into His own family.  There you’ll find peace. In Him you’ll find peace.

A Question of Why

Why? Isn’t that always the question? Often times it’s the one short little three letter word that defines for us our trials and adversity, our struggles and our pain. We ask it as we try to make some sort of semblance of sense out of everything we can’t figure out enough to actually make sense. We do it to the point where it’s not just a question anymore, but the answer as well.

How often have we found ourselves challenged, asking ‘Why’? “Why me?” “Why now?” “Why do bad things happen to good people?” “If God is so good and He loves us, they why would He let this happen?” At times, it’s the easiest and quickest word to roll off of our tongues in our hour of need, knowing we just don’t know and that what we need to know isn’t going to come simply or readily to us even for as much as we want it to.

But then life is difficult, it’s hard and it’s wrought with challenges. Just when we think we’ve gotten our head wrapped around it enough to actually do something, it throws a curve ball that knocks us off our game. Sometimes it’s small, and we’re able to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off saying “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” as we move on from it. Other times it’s big and it’s encompassing and, for as much as we want it to, we can’t quite seem to do it, we can’t quite figure it out enough to do it. It leaves us with this hurt feeling as we wonder if it’s ever going to be the same. In those moments, “Why” is about the only thing that’s uncomplicated about the complicated to us.

The thing is it’s not always about the “Why”. After all, for as unclear as it may all be, for as convoluted as it perhaps seems to be, the “Why” is actually transparent, it’s not that complex at all. We live in a sinful world; one that, since the fall of man, has been marked with trials and temptations. (Genesis 3:1-19) As Peter reminds us, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) Is there a greater “Why” than this?

Even the most righteous, the most faithful, living in this mortal realm, need fear the old adversary, and they need to do so more than the unrighteous. After all, the greater question of “Why” is why would the Devil go after a soul he already has when the nature of man is to abide in fear and doubt? He knows this, and he doesn’t go after the weak alone, but the strong, hunting them, seeking to make them his own.

No, the question isn’t “Why?” regardless of how easy it comes. “Why” is often times the means by which uncertainty attacks that which we need to be the most certain of. “Why” is the easiest way to make the simple become complex, so complex that we can’t begin to understand it. “Why”, for as hard as it may be to let go of, is how comfort and peace is robbed from us as it sends us looking everywhere but where we need to for the answers.

It’s not “Why” that’s the most important thing, but rather “What” and “How”. “What am I supposed to learn?” “How is this going to make me a better person?” “What can I do differently?” “How can I use this to grow in faith and better understand God’s plan for me?” Regardless of the pain and the hardships we may face, these are the questions we not only have to ask but the ones that need to draw us closer and nearer to our Heavenly Father.

The promise of God is the promise that where we are so He is as well. He will never fail us or forsake us. (Joshua 1:5) His covenant with us is the covenant that stands by His blessed assurances to us in the faithfulness of His love and mercy. (Deuteronomy 4:31) So strong is He in that love and care He has for us, in the covenant He has made with us, He would give His only Son to die for us (John 3:16) even when we seemed like we were lost to sin, death and the Devil. How much more then does the wonders of His Word mean when He tells to us that, if we come to Him, in faith and hope, He will give us the knowledge that we so seek? (James 1:5-6)

Even when we stumble, even when we fall, even when the world seems unfair, unnecessarily so, our blessed Savior is there for us, to take the yoke of our burdens from us. (Matthew 11:28-30) Again, the “Why” is simple, it’s a matter then of “What are we meant to do with the freedom He has given us?” and “How can we use His good gifts to be the people He has intended for us to be?” We can only do that, we can only answer that by letting go of “Why”, understanding that it has already been answered for us, and we are not in control of it, all we can control is what we do with the blessed gifts and the wonderful promises God has given to us.

It’s only then that we can find the peace, the hope, and the comfort we so long for.