Peace!

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A young girl in elementary school, bright and beautiful, went on and on about all the drama in her life, all the terrible things she suffered at the hands of others. I don’t doubt, for a moment, that school can be tough for a kid! As I continued to listen, her Mom joined right in, talking about the awful administration and uncaring teachers. I realized that the girl had been taught to see the world as a place of threats, to regard others as enemies. Every perceived slight had to be met as a challenge, every person subdued. Without a real change life is going to be very difficult for that little girl, because she will find exactly what she has been trained to look for – a fight.

Christians are taught to radically change their approach to life, to those with whom they worship and live. Paul’s inspired words to us are practical.
“Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-15, NIV)

Live in peace with each other.  What a timely word for us. Ours is a confrontational, combative, deeply divided world. Some suggest that America has not known such deep divisions since the Civil War. Christians have been drawn into the so-called ‘culture wars’ and many fight, tooth and claw. Only someone who is naïve or foolish could say that there are no real differences. There are! But, if we believe the Gospel of Christ we know that must not meet conflict with loud words, power plays, or threats. We are to walk in the way of the Prince of Peace, the Man who met His enemies with Truth and Love, who counsels us with that famed phrase, “if someone strikes you on one cheek, turn the other also.”

Paul tells us that a key choice of the peaceable person is PATIENCE.  The word he used in the first language of the New Testament would literally be translated to ‘suffer long.’  Patience is more than putting up with that other person. It is learning about them, engaging with them even when it hurts, working for understanding. Contemporary ‘wisdom’ advises us to discard the difficult people in life, to throw away those we see as toxic.  God says love them and suffer long with them, with the hope that love can conquer.

Real peace can be found when we are secure in the love of God, when we come to understand that our first priority is to please Him and that He is our Advocate. “That is why we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6, NLT)  Do you believe that? Is your soul’s security anchored in the amazing love of the Lord?

The first Law taught reciprocity: meet threat with threat, take eye for eye. Jesus changed that with a radical call to bold, profoundly expressed love.  He says “You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and on the unjust, too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.” (Matthew 5:43-46, NLT)

Are you choosing peace?  Peace with others flows out of a heart that rests in God. The place to start is with Him, finding restoration and reconciliation, coming to know how much He loves you. Then, loved, you can love others with more than words.

Here is a word from the Word.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27, NIV)

_________

Blessed Assurance (especially note the first line of verse 3)

Blessed assurance Jesus is mine
O what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation purchase of God
Born of His Spirit washed in His blood

 This is my story this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long

 Perfect submission perfect delight
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy whispers of love

 Perfect submission all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blest
Watching and waiting looking above\
Filled with His goodness lost in His love

Fanny Jane Crosby © Words: Public Domain

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