Different seasons in my life seem to take on themes, lessons needed to prepare me for the next chapter. I am currently swimming in the midst of troubled waters where peace is often disrupted by intrusions of discord, unsolicited, unwelcome, and seemingly unavoidable. I have been known to say, I was quiet and at peace when in walked trouble. How true…
I’ve searched and searched my own heart, scrutinized my words and behaviors and though recognizing my imperfect state, I also find consistent commitment to and practice of integrity and consistency. Where there is strife, I long for resolution. Where there is brokenness, I pray and seek healing and peace. Where there is hurt, I long for comfort, for myself and for all others. I can honestly say there is not one soul on this earth for whom I don’t wish peace, peace with God now and for all of eternity; peace with me, now and for all our days.
How, then, does discord continue to erupt? I find it is certainly not only in my life, but in every life into which I have sight. Two scriptures clarify with certainty…”we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12) “…God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…” (1 Corinthians 14:33) So we can know, that the source of discord is in what opposes the peace of God, the pure love of God and of truth. We fight against ugliness or we take it up and become instruments of it. There is no neutrality.
Much is said to believers in scripture about unity. We are to be in one mind and one accord, having pure hearts and minds, a steadfast commitment to love as we have been loved. There is no place for division among those who are truly in the body of Christ. If division is there, division that disrupts love and good-will one toward another, are they in the body?
Apathy and indifference are not characteristics of followers of Jesus Christ. “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be reconciled to God. For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21) The love of God is a love that knows no bounds. Those who are born by the Spirit of God into the body of Christ are a passionate, loving people who seek to preserve peace and promote what is good and right and true. They are not instigators of discord, disruption, and harm.
I often think of what Jesus said, “Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but He that does the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy Name? and in Thy Name have cast out devils? and in Thy Name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you, you that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23) Clearly, these folks will have been leaders in church and church related organizations, yet they will have been opposed to the Lord instead of His servants. How deeply troubling and what a word of warning. How needful is discernment?!
I do believe, truly believe, that Christ is coming again. I also recognize that the day of death is the final day of opportunity for any soul to be reconciled to God. We will all face judgement in the condition we are in when the final breath is breathed, so then, we are all one breath away from our eternal destiny. For believers, all of life bears the weight of eternal consequence. Love for others fosters concern and all things matter for now and for always. Jesus instructed us to be about our Father’s business by His example. We are to live as He lived.
If suffering from lack of care or passion, consider this. Jesus said, “I know your works, that you are neither hot nor cold. I will for you to be cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16) Contrast this with what you know to be true of those who speak truth boldly and in great love. Though they please the heart of their Lord, they are criticized by many, their motives are scrutinized, and they are forever in a battle against naysayers; just as Christ was rejected, so too, are they. Christ warned us that we would be persecuted for the sake of righteousness and that we would have trouble in this world, but that we are to “fear not” to “be of good courage” and to “run the race with patience.”
Look and see the fruits of your own life and the lives of those around you. Pray for wisdom, for discernment, and for the love of Christ to abound all the more even in the midst of great sorrow. “…and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God…” (Ephesians 6:13-17)
Peace comes by remembering that our citizenship is in heaven and that God will in the end give us “…beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that we might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:3)