Studying the many usages of the word "peace" in the New Testament has been inspiring. All through the week I've marveled at the many application points in our current world. We could certainly learn a thing or two about peace. Our own nation is embroiled in layers of controversy, anger, and disagreement that lurk in the dark corners of everyday life. Over the last few months the Covid-19 virus has imprisoned most of us in the small confines of home, giving us rare portals of observation. You know, the main stream media, social outlets, personal contacts, and time to seethe and stew through those things than irritate us. On several occasions these frustrations have morphed toward outward expression. Towns and cities, the neighborhoods around us have become war zones of destruction, injury, and the loss of life. How many times during these weeks have I prayed for peace in those volatile places, moments of inner calm in those aggravated people.
Late in the week that inspiration became conviction. In one of my flammable moments the Spirit spoke to me: "Hey, I'm talking to you". The prayers and wishes for others was suddenly the plea for those spiritual truths to me more evident in me. As a result, five of those biblical references about peace became my conviction to be a person of peace. Here they are---
1. My personal need to lead all relationships with peace.
Every Epistle written by the Apostle began with a greeting of grace and peace to his readers. Those churches and believers were scattered across the ancient world, people with varying religious beliefs, customs, languages, and needs. But, the Apostle Paul knew that they all needed this spiritual peace in their lives. So, every letter began with his wish, perhaps prayer, for them. In one way or another he wrote "grace and peace to you". His care for them acknowledged peace as a basic life virtue. Yes, everything since then has changed. But, this foundational principle remains. I should lead with that same heart and mind when encountering others.
2. Relationships, as much as they depend on me, should be peaceful.
Paul wrote this truth to the Romans---"If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all" (Romans 12: 18, ESV). No, I'm not responsible for what happens in every element of my relationship with others. But, as much as it depends on me, peace should be the defining character of those relationships. Time for me to step up.
3. Peace should characterize my influence in the Christian experience.
The Apostle's letters were written to churches. And, each of them was experiencing inner contention and dissension. He wrote, "Be at peace among yourselves"
(1 Thessalonians 5: 13, ESV). He knew that their witness was compromised by the internal struggles that caused division among them. I should be an agent of peace in the churches I am privileged to serve.
4. Peace should be the all-encompassing trait of my life.
Yes, again, we can often be a little choosy in our definition and expression of peace. Paul settled this rationalizing practice when he wrote, "Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times, and in every way" (2 Thessalonians 3: 16, ESV). He words cut through my justifying ways. Biblical peace is an all the time, in every way reality.
5. Peace should be my contact point with everyone.
The anonymous author of the Epistle to the Hebrews applied the principles of personal peace beyond the Christian community. Without doubt I should express spiritual peace to the people in the Christian Community. This author extended it beyond the walls of the church---"Strive for peace with everyone..." (Hebrews 12: 14, ESV). This means that I should seek peace with those people that may be the most difficult. Ouch!
These lessons about peace have taught me, challenged me, and inspired me. More than anything, however, they have convicted me. They have reminded me of my short fuse, quick temper, fast responses, and often harsh words. This peace is promised to guard my heart and mind.
Through it all, the Spirit has been saying, "Hey, I'm talking to you."
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