We cannot read the story of Jesus’ walk with His disciples without being amazed at how frequently they misunderstood His teachings and behaved in ways that were contrary to His intent. Yet, remarkably, Jesus didn’t give up on them. He didn’t cast them aside in favor of a new group, with fewer challenges—the way we might have urged Him to do.
The truth is, we are all “trying” on God’s patience in ways we can’t even begin to imagine. We far too often run ahead of Him. We put our own interests ahead of His. We forget the most important of His priorities, replacing them with things of transitory value. We stumble and fall. Still, we are the tools in God’s hands, and He forgives us and continues using us.
In the same way, we should be far more forgiving with one another. We should help the people around us recover when they fall, rather than rebuking them or casting them out of the church. We should work to build, not tear down. “ ‘"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’ ” (Matt. 5:9, NRSV).
Peace = Shalom
Everything that makes for a person’s highest good—wholeness and completeness in a person’s relationship with themselves, with others, and with God—an intentionally established and maintained harmony and unity for God’s sake—results in a sense of well-being and contentedness that comes from experiencing right relationships.
The entire process of coming to wholeness and completeness is initiated by God and cooperated with by humanity. Shalom is that state of existence brought about by salvation from God that results in complete harmony, unity, and peace between God and humanity—and between one person and another.
“The peacemaker doesn’t just pull up weeds, he also plants flowers” (Abraham Lincoln).
“Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (Ps. 34:14, NKJV).
A Strategy for Peace
“Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1, NIV).
What are the things that keep you from being at peace with yourself? Is it unresolved guilt? Unconfessed sin? Is it blockage in the spiritual plumbing caused by some pain or hurt in the past that you’ve never dealt with or let go? Is it a picture of God that portrays God as one who keeps track of your failures and holds them against you, one who likes you only when you do well, one who’s impossible to please?
“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, . . . but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (8:1, 6, NIV).
The Greek word for “sympathy” means “to experience together with” “Sympathy” = “suffering together”—identification with the suffering of another by the willingness to enter into the other’s pain.
So take an inventory right now. Think of the relationships in your life. Are there any that are broken? Are you at odds with anyone? Are you continuing to hold grudges or memories of hurts that you need to resolve? Who have you harmed or distressed whose forgiveness you need to seek? Is there any situation you’re aware of, whether you’re specifically involved or not, to which you can bring God’s peace, wholeness and reconciliation?
What is one action step you can take to mediate peace?
Jesus said, “ ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’ ” (Matt. 5:9, NRSV). “Children of God” = the Greek way of describing an adjective which in this case literally means “Godlike.”