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Friday, July 3, 2015

Let's live at peace with each other, shall we?

Back in the time of Christ, one of the specific purposes for his coming was to bring us into a place of living at peace with God.  Without his specific intervention on our behalf, we would still be wallowing around in and out of "right standing" with God because our actions would always require a new sacrifice to "cover over" the wrong-doing we engage in.  That intervention? The laying down of his life once and for all, for all mankind, to bring us once and for all into a place of peace (reconciliation) with God.  If we really live at peace with God, how is it we find it so hard to live at peace with one another?  For months now, the various reports of crimes against others just seem to invade our newspaper headlines and social media clips.  One race rises up against another, those who want to operate outside of the laws of the land rise up against those who are commissioned to enforce those laws, and kids tear down the reputations of other kids until they are in a place of absolute mental anguish. I have to ask if there is a remedy to this kind of hatred which builds walls between groups of individuals - and I need only look to Christ to find the answer to that one.

Christ is the reason we are now at peace. He made us Jews and you who are not Jews one people. We were separated by a wall of hate that stood between us, but Christ broke down that wall. By giving his own body, Christ ended the law with its many commands and rules. His purpose was to make the two groups become one in him. By doing this he would make peace. Through the cross Christ ended the hate between the two groups. And after they became one body, he wanted to bring them both back to God. He did this with his death on the cross. Christ came and brought the message of peace to you non-Jews who were far away from God. And he brought that message of peace to those who were near to God. Yes, through Christ we all have the right to come to the Father in one Spirit. (Ephesians 2:14-18 ERV)

If he is the reason we are now at peace with God, couldn't he very well be the reason and hope for living at peace with each other?  If he can bridge such a huge gap between us and God, then isn't it just possible he could bridge the much smaller gap between us and another person?  We may not be of the same race, color, or even creed, but we can have the walls of hatred which divide us broken down through the love and grace of Christ - we only need to begin to war against the forces of evil in the spiritual realm which are really behind the building of those walls.  Behind the tensions created because of race, color, or creed are very vast array of Satan's "best" erecting these walls which lead to all the misguided and unnecessary tensions.  We need to begin to wage "war" against the right "forces" and stop waging war with our neighbors!

Christ's purpose today is no different than it was all those years ago - to bring us into one with each other.  His means of doing so is also no different - his blood shed on our behalf.  Not just our behalf, but on behalf of all mankind - regardless of color, creed, or race.  The message of peace has and will always begin with Christ, my friends.  If we want to end the violence, we need to bring Christ into the midst of our division - for nothing else will end the division quite like seeing each other through the eyes of Jesus.  On a personal level, it is critical for each of us to find peace with God.  As we do, we bring that peace into the midst of any other relationship we have - even the casual ones.  

Peace isn't the absence of disagreement, for we are always prone to find little things we will not find mutual agreement in.  Yet, we can appreciate the nuances of another's position in a matter.  Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word."  He was correct - unarmed truth will open doors to understanding; unconditional love will begin to bind us together in ways we could not achieve apart from grace and compassion toward each other.  Ronald Reagan also noted that "peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means."  

Maybe this is where we begin - by seeking Christ's insight into the "peaceful means" by which we may begin to break down the walls of hatred, bullying, and misdirected tensions everywhere.  We don't bring peace through more conflict - we bring peace by making the person of peace the center of our focus.  Just sayin!