Thursday, November 23, 2006

Peace In Our Place

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:7 – ESV)

Paul had spoken of a dispute between two ladies in the church, and he describes the process of peace to the Philippians. In verses two and three of chapter four Paul points to the bottom line, the starting point in the process of peace; to realize that the people in question were all believers.

In verse 4 Paul says to rejoice in the Lord, to think about Christ, and let those whom are in disagreement with each other agree about the worth of Christ together.

In verse 5 Paul is saying to use mercy as another means to help with disputes and to foster joy in the community (James 3:17). It is putting others before you, recognizing Jesus as present within the community to help in this matter. This describes people who are free to let go of anxieties and the things that cause stress, because they know that the Lord will take up the cause.

This has to be cultivated; verse 5 says that our reasonableness must “be known to everyone”. Not just those whom we are in essential agreement with, such as Christians, but also those who we are not in agreement with at all. We will not be able to turn the switch on and off; it is a lifestyle as much as a choice. Even outside the context of the Christian community we must allow the Lord to fight our battles for us without us becoming like the world in bitterness, malice, and evil plotting. James 5:8-9 – the Lord is always a moment closer to coming back than He was a moment ago (Romans 13:11).

In verse 6 Paul explains that prayer is an obvious means of overcoming obstacles to peace. Through prayer God reveals what the obstacles are, we see the problems within ourselves that we can handle and we gain perspective on those things we have no control of, and we ask God to control them or to give us wisdom in how to deal with them. We pray for peace in our fellowship, while at the same time remaining ready to give and receive mercy and rejoicing together around the person of Jesus Christ, with thanksgiving.

This has all lead up to verse 7, where we find our fellowship “getting the peace”. If we do these things that Paul has discussed in verses 2 through 6, this will be the result; God will provide, guide, protect and direct us to peace with one another, and He will make us of the same mind (set). It will be beyond human comprehension. We cannot understand it but we can experience it. It comes to us most clearly and powerfully, not in individual situations, but rather within the context of Christian community, as Paul is explaining here and elsewhere (Colossians 3:12-16). Relate this to what Jesus said about His peace and unity with God the Father, Son, and Spirit in John chapters 14-17.

The peace happens when you do these other things together. This is the process of joy and peace, the kingdom of God (Romans 14:17). It is not arguing incessantly about meat, drink, or anything else, it is a clear understanding of Christ working among you and you see that you need to do these things Paul just talked about. It is worth it, for sure. It comes through our unity in community through working through our diversity. This same mind, this mindset, will be the same one Christ had when He came to earth, the same one He has now, and the same one He wants us to have, and prayed for us to have. Peace and joy are linked; they are both facets of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Out of our love for the Lord and for each other these spiritual answers to disputed things begin to flow. They lead to longsuffering, and on down the line to number nine, self control. There is joy and peace in believing (Romans 15:13).


Even So... said...

Happy Thanksgiving...

Even So... said...

We will be posting for tomorrow...and attending the first ScumBlogCon at Frank Turk's bookstore...hopefully we will have picures soon...

Dan said...

Happy thanksgiving Hatfields. We love you guys and can't wait for your return. Everything here is going well. We will be at Cindy's moms this Sunday. Come back with lots of stories to share with us!
Love ya