Beyond race relations: Make peace with one another

Romans 14--19

In recent blog posts instead of examining the Verse of the Day, we have been continuing  the series based on the concept “It’s all about relationships,” the theme from a conference attended three years that related seven principles that can be universally applied to “launch, challenge, and grow relationships.” These principles can be universally applied in achieving and maintaining successful relationships, but they can also be specifically applied in an area of race relations, a critically important area in America today.

These seven principles are related to verbs that connote action when specifically applied in terms of what should be done to “one another.” The reciprocal pronoun used in the plural carries the notion of a group of people acting upon themselves, i.e., upon one another. For example, we are to “love another and so forth. . .”

1) Love

2) Honor

3)  Forgive

4)  Encourage

5)  Admonish

6)  Serve

7)  Make peace

Earlier posts have discussed the first six principles, and today we will look at the seventh:

Make peace with one another

In the midst of our war-torn world, we find a desperate yearning to experience “peace in our times.” Events occurring since September 11, 2001 have catapulted the world into a state of anxiety and fearfulness.  We are increasingly more aware of the absence of peace, as the United States is now entrenched in the war on terrorism which continues to consume the thoughts of many citizens. The world is seeking relief from the turmoil and strife of these troubled times, crying out, “Peace, peace, and there is no peace.”

Translated from the Hebrew expression shalom, this priceless concept encompasses a state of untroubled, undisturbed well-being. According to Strong’s Concordance, shalom means “completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord.” It is an inner reality, for the peace of God indicates being free from anxiety and care; it is not dependent upon outside conditions.

The peace of God comes from the God of peace, and it is only possible to obtain it through the Prince of Peace, who declares this truth:

John 14:27 (AMP):

27 Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.]

The Lord Jesus Christ also spoke these word about those who make peace:

 Blessed are the peace makers, for they shall be called the children of God. (Matthew 5:9)

“You are the salt of the earth,” one of the striking metaphors used by the Lord, describes those who follow him. Salt, a remarkable change-agent, facilitates the process of change. Such an agent of change appears on the scene and influences the total environment. Jesus Christ elaborates on salt and makes reference to peace:

Mark 9:50 (AMP)

Salt is good and useful; but if salt has lost its saltiness (purpose), how will you make it salty? Have salt within yourselves continually, and be at peace with one another.”

Peace, one of the fruit of the spirit, should be evident in the lives of believers today. As we sow the seeds of peace, we shall reap an abundant harvest of the same, according to James 3:18:

And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

Romans 14:19 (AMP) reminds us:

So then, let us pursue [with enthusiasm] the things which make for peace and the building up of one another [things which lead to spiritual growth].

Fruit produced from applying the principle of making peace should be especially evident in the Church. Prior to and during the times of Jesus Christ, Jews and Gentiles did not socially interact. The separation was comparable to the practice of segregation experienced by African Americans in the Deep South in the early 20th century. Jesus Christ, however, through his sacrifice on the cross and his subsequent resurrection, obliterated those barriers that separated these two cultural groups, unifying these factions into one body, the Church, known as the Body of Christ.

Ephesians: 2:14-17 (NLT) speak of the accomplished work of Jesus Christ, the savior of the whole world:

14 For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.

15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups.

16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to dEeath.

17 He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near.

In Ephesians 4:3 (NLT) we find another exhortation of peace:

Make every effort to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the bond of peace [each individual working together to make the whole successful].

As our thoughts turn toward the peace that the Lord gives and our desire to abide in peace, words from the Medieval Italian poet and philosopher, Dante Alighieri, come to mind, a line that introduces the following poetic prayer:

Peace

In His will is our peace.

Dante

                       

O, Lord, make us instruments of your peace, we pray.

From our lives may there stream heavenly melodies.

As consummate virtuoso compose and play

Upon our soul, inspire glorious harmonies.

In such measured moments of sweetest quietude

Arrange serenades of praise. Let grace notes resound,

As our lives crescendo in songs of gratitude,

From heart to heart, where your grace and mercy abound.

Orchestrate aubades, nocturnes, songs at eventide;

Complete cantatas of peace within us, align

Our desires and your pleasure. Here we abide,

Saxophone and soloist, communing by design.

Knowing our purpose, we remain quiet and still,

Composed in perfect peace, the center of His will.

The essence of the intent of the seventh principle and related scriptures is also expressed in the song “Instruments of Your Peace,” recorded in Johannesburg, South Africa.

 

We conclude our discussion with these words:

As agents of change we transform our environment;

We give no offense and remove every stumbling block.

We have salt in ourselves, and make peace with one another.

 

 

 

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