As our cities burn, I am straining to hear the voice of God speaking clearly through His church. While there are a lot of church leaders speaking, much of what is being said is not helpful and therefore is obviously not the voice of God.
In Romans 12:18, Paul the Apostle wrote, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (NIV) Some will quickly argue that it was written to a different time, with different people and different conditions. Indeed it was. It was written to a church that was ostracized from a pluralistic society that blamed natural disasters and other unfortunate events on the people Paul was writing to. Just a few years after this letter, Paul himself would die at the hands of Roman executioners, Peter would be crucified upside down and Nero would blame the city fire on Christians. This is the same guy – by the way – that liked to wrap Christians in oil soaked cloth and set them on fire to light his gardens in the evening.
Hebrews 12:14 also elucidates the importance of living peacefully, “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, not one will see the Lord.” (NIV) In the passage, the Bible actually equates peaceful living with holiness and holiness with our privilege of seeing God. The idea of peace was of great importance to Christians, even in a day when it was so difficult to find.
There are four easy things that Christians can do today, to bring more peace and civility to our communities, nation and world:
1. Eliminate Inflammatory Rhetoric
As I wrote in a previous blog, our culture is addicted to conflict and controversy. Wisdom seldom, if ever, is able to push controversy and outrageous behavior off the front page or out of the lead spot on the daily news. What used to be relegated to the supermarket tabloids and gutter journalism are now exalted as professional reporting. The problem is that long after the media has moved onto the next scandal de jour, the infection deposited in our culture continues to grown until it explodes in our streets. This is not the way of God’s people.
2. Never Use Hurtful Humor
While humor is often a wonderful tool for broaching tough subjects and easing our way into difficult conversations, we should always consider how others may perceive it. We should avoid hurtful stereotypes and ambiguous metaphors. As much as it is possible, let us gain insight and understanding of those we are trying to communicate with BEFORE we stick our foot in our mouth.
3. Always Consider God’s Agenda First
It is far too easy to get caught up in the issues and politics of this world and forget what God really wants. As Christians we represent His Kingdom first and foremost. Everything else, no matter how seemingly important, must come after. Jesus had a plethora of “rights” He could have exercised, but it was more important to Him that we have a Savior. If we are truly His offspring, we will consider other’s before ourselves as well.
4. Love, Love, Love
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NLT)
Father please bless my readers with wisdom to act Christ-like in an increasingly hostile world. Amen!