Tragically, our country, Western Europe, and, increasingly, the world as a whole, are divided between traditional values and postmodern values. This division is seen in all elements of our culture—political, religious, academia, social mores, et al. Partisanship and polarity, chaos and confusion seem to reign. In contrast to this is the peace that we all desire (or at least say that we desire) and that God alone can give.
Ronald D. Reeves, minister of the College Avenue Church of Christ in my boyhood hometown of DeFuniak Springs, Florida, in a recent issue of the church’s bulletin, called attention to a number of scriptures having to do with peace. I invite your thoughtful reflection on some of them.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).
“Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another” (Mark 9:50b).
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace” (John 16:33a).
“If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18).
“Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another” (Romans 14:19).
“For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints” (I Corinthians 14:34).
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
“. . . endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).
“And let the peace of God rule (serve as an umpire, hf) in your heart . . .” (Colossians 3:15).
“Be at peace among yourselves” (I Thessalonians 5:13b).
“. . . that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (I Timothy 2:2).
“Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:17-18).
Let us deeply ponder the above statements and strive to practice them in our own lives.
At the same time, we must not, unlike ancient Judah on the eve of her destruction, be naïve and cry, “Peace, peace! When there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). While Christ is the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6), in another sense, He did not come to bring peace. Hear Him!
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.’ And ‘a man’s foes will be those of his own household’ ” (Matthew 10:34-35).
Clearly then it is not peace at any price!
My longtime friend, Wayne Lankford, minister of the East Main Church of Christ in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, has cogently observed: “Truth cannot be compromised for peace. This does not mean that we have to be harsh or rude, but when one group opposes Christ (and His Word), and the other group follows Christ faithfully, this brings division” (The East Main Messenger, March 19, 2017). And this explains the polarity and division that we are experiencing in our world, in our nation, and in the church today.
Real peace, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) is found only in humbly bowing to the will of God.
“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
May 9, 2017
Speaking Schedule: May 9: Old Philadelphia Church of Christ, Warren County, TN. (Join us this [Tuesday] evening at 7 o’clock as I speak on “The Church of Christ is Different”).