SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY (November 14, 2013)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” Galatians 5:22-26.
“SINCE WE LIVE BY THE SPIRIT, LET US KEEP IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT” Galatians 5:25 (NIV).
In the previous edition of Spiritual Nourishment for Today, we focused our attention on the INNER PEACE which comes through our relationship with God through Christ. We established the fact that the peace which is given by Christ to his people is not as the peace understood by the world or that which is given by the devil. Rather, the peace of God transcends all understanding. This is the peace that keeps us calm in the midst of financial challenges, sicknesses, death, calamities as well as attacks from enemies. In this edition, we want to focus on the last aspect of Christian peace. This is PEACE WITH ALL MEN. This also emanates from our relationship with God through Christ. Without peace with God, we cannot live in genuine harmony with other men; neither can we help bring peace between two conflicting groups. This is very important for us to discuss because it is an aspect of the nature of God which should be reflected in all believers.
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus pronounced blessings on believers who followed his teaching. One of the blessings is found in Matthew 5:9 as follows:
“BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS, FOR THEY SHALL BE CALLED SONS OF GOD.”
What our Lord said means that a prerequisite for us to become children of God is become peacemakers. Of course we also know that faith (i.e. believing) in Jesus also makes us children of God (John 1:12). One can therefore assume that if you have faith in Jesus Christ but you are not a peacemaker, you may not qualify to be called a true child of God. I may not be right in my analogy, but kindly take time to think about these two verses and share with us what you think should be the best explanation when these verses are connected. But we can better understand it when we connect this to Romans 8:14 which says that THOSE WHO ARE LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD ARE THE SONS OF GOD.
If Paul says that peace is an aspect of the Fruit of the Spirit, and the Spirit which brings the fruit is the one who testifies that we are children of God, then we can still maintain that PEACE IS ONE OF THE MAIN IDENTIFICATION MARKS OF ALL CHILDREN OF GOD. So every child of God must be an agent of peace after being reconciled to the Father through Jesus Christ.
We all know that the reason for which Jesus came into the world is THE RECONCILIATION OF SINFUL MEN TO THE RIGHTEOUS GOD. This is a mission of peace. He came in order to bring men into good relationship with God. The Apostle Paul, in his admonition to the Church at Philippi told believers:
“YOUR ATTITUDE SHOULD BE THE SAME AS THAT OF Christ JESUS” Philippians 2:5.
Verses 6-11 shows how Jesus condescended into the human realm just to reconcile men to God. This is the greatest sacrifice any human mind can imagine. He ceased to consider himself God even though he was in very nature God just to reconcile us to the Father. Therefore if our attitude is to be the same as Jesus Christ, then we also need to sacrifice in order to bring reconciliation between men and God, between men and ourselves and also between men and men. This is of course is not an easy task but we can accomplish that with the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. Paul again tells us in Romans 14:19:
“LET US THEREFORE MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO DO WHAT LEADS TO PEACE AND MUTUAL EDIFICATION.”
This is something we need to take note of. The path to reconciling men to God, and reconciling with those we have differences with, as well as reconciling two conflicting parties, requires some amount of effort from us.
The path to becoming peacemakers must begin with us. We need to accept God’s invitation to us through his son Jesus Christ. When we are reconciled to God, we can then be in a position to reconcile with other men. Sometimes we find ourselves in families and church settings where we have conflicts with many people because of our academic, social-cultural or economic differences. It is not easy to be understood by everyone, neither can you understand everyone, but you still have to make the effort to live in peace with all men. This is not to say that you should compromise on matters of faith. Our differences on certain issues should not make us enemies; neither should we compromise the true gospel because of unity. As much as possible, we should try to live in harmony with all men without compromising the core teachings of the gospel. This harmony is very much needed among believers. The Apostle Peter also said:
“FINALLY, ALL OF YOU, LIVE IN HARMONY WITH ANOTHER; BE SYMPATHETIC; LOVE AS BROTHERS, BE COMPASSIONATE AND HUMBLE” 1 Peter 3:8.
This is supported by Paul’s statement in Romans 12:14:
“IF IT IS POSSIBLE, AS FAR AS IT DEPENDS ON YOU, LIVE AT PEACE WITH EVERYONE.”
It is therefore important for believers to learn to live in peace with all people, whether they are believers or not. It is also important to make every effort and sacrifice possible to ensure that there is peace among the members of the body of Christ. Unfortunately, this has not always been the case. MOST OF US WHO ARE SUPPOSED TO BE THE PEACEMAKERS HAVE NOW BECOME THE CONFLICT MAKERS. We are the ones who create all sorts of conflicts in the body of Christ, in our communities and also in our families. A Christian who does not love peace cannot call himself or herself a Christian. Every Christian must be peace-loving because it is the attitude of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Jesus did not only teach us to live in peace with others but he also demonstrated it himself. He refused to be confrontational even when he was provoked. He refused to retaliate when he was abused even though he had the power to do so. As we meet different people we will find that we cannot always think and act in the same way. This can breed conflicts between us and many other people both within and without the body of Christ. Yet we should always make the effort at seeking peace and harmony in our relationship with all men.
In the next edition, we shall continue to look at another aspect of this same issue which could not be espoused in this edition.
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.