Last week, I mentioned that I was planning to start a chain blog today on the topic of “peace” (see, “Chain Blog on the Topic of Peace“). This is the first “link” in that chain blog. If you would like to take part in this “chain blog”, please see the rules at the end of this post.
According to Jesus, peacemakers are blessed and will be called children of God (Matt. 5:9). Similarly, he told his disciples that he was leaving his peace with them (John 14:27). James recognized that wisdom from above results in peace (James 3:17). Paul says that we have peace with God through Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:14-17), and that the Holy Spirit produces peace in our lives (Gal. 5:22). The author of Hebrews says that discipline results in peace, and that we should all strive for peace with everyone else (Heb. 12:11,14). Likewise, Peter exhorts his readers to look for and pursue peace (1 Pet. 3:11). Finally, throughout the New Testament, the standard Greco-Roman greeting was replaced with “Grace and peace” (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:3; Eph. 1:1; Phil. 1:2; Col. 1:2; 1 Thes. 1:1; 2 Thes. 1:2; 1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2; Titus 1:4; Phil. 1:3; 1 Pet. 1:2; 2 Pet. 1:2; 2 John 1:3; Rev. 1:4).
But, what does “peace” mean to a follower of Jesus Christ? There are certainly many aspects to this question. We could talk about peace with God, or peace with another individual. Similarly, we could discuss peace among a group of believers, or peace between believers and unbelievers. We could also talk about political peace.
To kick off this chain blog, and in keeping with the primary themes of this blog, I’m going to discuss the implications of peace among a group of believers. Primarily, I want to answer the following question: What does it mean for the church to live together in peace?
As mentioned earlier, several passages of Scripture indicate that peace primarily comes through our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Peace is a product of the Spirit’s work in a person’s life. However, we are also exhorted to seek and strive for peace. Thus, there is a work that must be done in order to maintain the peace that we have with one another through the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps the passage of Scripture that speaks the most clearly about maintaining peace among a community of believers in found in Philippians:
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4 ESV)
In this passage, we see that we maintain peace among our brothers and sisters by being of the same mind, having the same love, and being in full accord – thinking, caring, and deciding in like manner. Obviously, this would yield a peaceful situation. But, what about those times when we are not of the same mind, heart, and accord?
Paul covers that as well. In those instances – and they will occur – we are to do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but instead we are to humble ourselves and consider others to be more significant or important than ourselves. We are to consider one another’s interests as much as – if not more than – our own.
Thus, when we are not thinking or loving or deciding in the same way, then we maintain peace by allowing others to have their way. We humbly submit our wills to the will of others – allowing others to make decisions that may be different from the decisions that we would make.
And, of course, this is where things get sticky. Who should be leading the community in maintaining peace – that is, leading the way in humbly giving up their own opinions and desires for the good of the community? The leaders of the community should be first to consider others as more important, because, supposedly, the leaders are among the more mature – more Christ-like – of the community.
Unfortunately, we usually see just the opposite. (Yes, this is a generality. There are exceptions.) Usually, leaders are the ones who work the hardest to make sure that their opinions carry the day. Leaders are the ones who refuse to humble themselves and submit to the desires of others. This leads to a lack of example in maintaining peace and a lack of peace itself.
The world cannot find peace apart from Jesus Christ. The church has Christ and should have peace – if they are humbly submitting to the work of the Spirit in their lives, which would include humbly submitting to one another when their are differences of opinion. Instead, the church often seems to have as much stress – and perhaps less peace – than the world. Why? Because we care more about ourselves than others – because we consider ourselves more important than others. Because we are not submitting to the work of the Spirit in maintaining peace.
Chain blog rules:
1) If you would like to write the next blog post (link) in this chain, leave a comment stating that you would like to do so. If someone else has already requested to write the next link, then please wait for that blog post and leave a comment there requesting to write the following link.
2) Feel free to leave comments here and discuss items in this blog post without taking part in the actual “chain”. Your comments and discussion are very important in this chain blog.
3) When you write a link in this chain, please reply in the comments of all previous links to let everyone know that your link is ready. Also, please try to keep an updated list of links in the chain at the bottom of your post, and please include these rules at the bottom of your post.
Link 1: “Peace – A Chain Blog” by Alan Knox
Link 2: “Peace – A Chain Blog” by Joe (J.R.) Miller
Link 3: “For Peace Sake” by Chris Dryden
Link 4: “A Restoration of Peace in the Eschatological Work of Jesus Christ” by Lionel Woods
Link 5: ?