Name one thing the world desires and it would be ‘peace’. Nations at odds with each other all claim to want peace—whether with one another is something else altogether. Songs have been written and many more will be written about peace.
It is true also on a personal scale. Just about every one of us desires to live in peace. No one really enjoys a conflict just for the sake of it. Anyone who does is probably suffering from some deep-seated emotional or psychological issues.
Mankind has been on a grand quest for peace for the longest time. Philosophers and religionists have for millennia been exploring the question of how to acquire peace. Countless lives have been lost on this quest; blood spilled in violence for the sake of achieving it. Every soldier on the battlefield puts his life on the line for this elusive peace.
Living in this world with its sad state of affairs, Christians are to do our part to alleviate its pain by proactively working for peace. “Follow peace with all (Heb 12:14)…”
“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men (Rom 12:18).”
Peace begins with God. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8).” Without the initiative from God to restore peace, there would be no hope for mankind.
The practice of peace, therefore, must begin in the household of God, the church. “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another (Rom 14:19).”
Peace is fragile in the sense that it can be easily damaged. We have to nurture and cultivate it, cherish and treasure it. Peace is not passive. From the words of Scriptures we learn that a peace-seeking person is one who actively works for it.
“For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it (1Pe 3:10-11).”
Peace has often been jeopardized due to a lack of self-control over one’s emotions, especially anger. When blood rushes to the head and anger takes over, clear thinking is almost non-existent. Cruel words and sometimes actions are unleashed which hurt and endanger even the closest relationships.
We have no excuse when that happens. Christians know we ought to “put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, railing, shameful speaking out of your mouth (Col 3:8).” God tells us the proper response to take. “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger (Pro 15:1).”
Young children are egocentric. To them, they are the centre of their little universe. As they gradually grow they learn the virtue of putting others before self and caring for the needs of others as they do their own.
Adults behaving selfishly, on the other hand, are unbecoming. When we insist that self-interest must come first at the expense of others or of the greater good of the whole, conflict usually follows.
“In love of the brethren be tenderly affectioned one to another; in honor preferring one another (Rom 12:10).”
Promoting peace in the Lord’s family is every Christian’s duty. When we love the church as the Lord loves us, we will do all that is necessary to pursue peace in His name. Disagreements inevitably occur as they do in every family but we will find a way to work things out in peace.
“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others (Php 2:3-4).”
In dealing with hurt and conflicts, a common instinct is to retaliate, to return hurt for hurt received. This may be the way of the world but in the family of God, this is against the ethical conduct of Christians.
Rather than returning evil for evil, we are to return good for evil.
“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom 12:19-21).”
In the church, we have different personalities, background and upbringing. What works for one may not work for another. It is good to practise patience with one another and to seek first to understand than to be understood.
The Lord gave us the principle which makes for peace: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets (Mat 7:12).”
It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Still, it takes some real effort on our part to accord unto others the same respect, consideration, kindness and patience we almost take for granted is our right to have.
Peace must begin in the family of God. The Lord said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:35).”