Lesson 13 -- third quarter 2000
August 27, 2000
© Copyright 2000, Christian Light Publications
Reconciliation or cease fire?
NATO recently concluded a somewhat intensive air campaign against Yugoslavia. Now that phase of its involvement in that country has ended and they have entered a different phase: peacekeeping. Peace keeping? It is very enlightening that these peacekeepers must be heavily armed, which begs the question: If there is peace already which must be kept, why are weapons necessary? The answer is obvious -- there is no peace, just absence of combat.
The dissatisfied members no longer wage their subversive campaign against that certain minister. And he no longer tweaks their poor attitudes with his "inflammatory" comments. And most folks relish the peace that has returned to their congregation. Oh, the pivotal issues and critical points of disagreement have not been addressed, much less resolved. And folks keep the peace by not bringing them up anymore. If that is peace keeping, why must issues go unaddressed? The answer is obvious -- there is no peace, just the absence of overt conflict.
In human relationships, nations, congregations and their people frequently settle for a cessation of hostitilities . . . and think they have achieved peace. The decision to back away from conflict is a noble choice, and often involves sacrifice in one form or another. But such a decision ought not be confused with peace and reconciliation.
Reconciliation cannot take place superficially, because that is contrary to its nature. Reconciliation is an event of the heart, a phenomenon of the soul. Thus reconciliation describes the state of relationships between people. And in such an environment, differences can be faced honestly and conflicts can be resolved openly. When reconciliation takes place, no peace keepers are needed, and definitely not armed ones.
We know that reconciliation among nations cannot happen except at the direct instigation of the Prince of Peace. The same is true of reconciliation among individuals. We also know that reconciliation among nations will not happen for awhile yet. However, reconciliation among individuals and within in our congregations can start happening any time. The choice is ours!
In today's lesson, the Apostle Paul served the Lord as the reconciler and peacemaker. I wonder what would have happened to Onesimus had there been no peacemaker. I wonder what Philemon's choices would have been had no one had the vision and mission of reconciling these two. But praise the Lord, He provided Himself a reconciler and peacemaker!
What would happen among and in our congregations if the church did not suffer such an acute shortage of committed peacemakers? Can you even begin to imagine the blessing?! I confess that I cannot. But we cannot let the magnitude of the problem to dissuade us from a commitment to peacemaking.
Notice in these closing verses that choosing peace as well as peacemaking bring their own particular rewards. God wants peacemakers. Will you be one?
"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God" (Matthew 5:9). "...Live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you" (2 Corinthians 13:11). "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14). "And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace" (James 3:18).
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