And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.

Ephesians 2: 17

There are separations, divisions, and animosities running wildly amok in our world today. This is not a profound revelation that has come to me; rather, it is the reality in which we all dwell. I submit that it is easier to identify conditions, situations, and identities that divide us than it is to do the same with those that bind people together. In part, this is true because we are more interested in the tensions than we are in their reconciliation, but it is also the continuing arch of the playing out of the fallen state of creation, itself. This world has been headed in this direction from its earliest days, and it continues to spiral downward; however, it does seem that the spiral is growing ever tighter and the rate of spin is continually increasing. Perhaps we are living in the midst of the death spiral of this world?

The saddest aspect of all of this is the fact that it doesn’t need to be so. God planned and established the way and the means for reconciliation of any and all differences. The Father does not want to see His people caught up in the animosities, hatred, and the violence that stems from them. He would have all of us learn to accept each other, take the risk inherent in peacemaking, and reach across all of our points of division with the hand of fellowship and grace. So, the means that God established for doing this is Jesus and the way is the cross. Christ’s love and grace serve to bring people into a relationship with God that ends our separation from all that is righteous and holy; thus, Christ reconciles people to our Creator. This is a part of what God intends to see happen. The other primary aspect of the Lord’s desire and will is carried out when we seek to reconcile with each other.

It is not easy to love people who are different, care for those who seem to be natural enemies, and enter into the stories of those who make us uncomfortable or who actually frighten us. Yet, Christ calls upon His people to do these things. He also goes with us as we seek to extend that hand of fellowship to others. For as we look upon the cross and consider what it means to join with Jesus in the sacrifice and the commitment to righteousness that is centered upon that torturous implement, all fear and concern should be left behind us. Christ experienced all of the pain, grief, and terror for us during those agonizing hours of hanging upon the cross. In Christ we are not only set free to love those who are different from us, but those differences are, in fact, made to disappear. They become meaningless in the context of God’s newly redeemed existence as citizens of His kingdom come to earth. In Christ and by the sacrifice of the cross, we can know the true peace that comes through loving all people as Christ loves them and from no longer seeing their difference but rather from looking upon them as fellow bearers of God’s beautiful and perfect image.

And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near.

Ephesians 2: 17

 

We live in a world that seems to understand distance a lot better than it does intimacy. Some of our strongest cultural aspirations involve striving for total independence, gaining control of our own destiny, and becoming strong individuals. Although there is value to be found in the self development that is at the center of this process, and each person should set goals to pursue, too many of us also make ourselves the central focus of this effort and lose sight of the importance of caring for and of serving our community. Also, as we do this we move away from Christ and His central role in making real strength possible.

 

The sort of strength that can withstand the forces that come at us in life is not found individually, and although people seek after security and economic advantage through national treaties and alliances, these are doomed to the failure that mistrust and self-interest create. Christ provides us with the only effective answer to all of the need for community that we have, for He works in the depths of our souls to transformatively change us. This newness that Christ brings about is neither temporal so that its solely external quality is readily washed away by the tides of fortune, nor is it temporary so that it can be set aside when the current situation becomes less comfortable. Christ changes us into beings who are more like Him, and He desires to bring people into the committed relational unity of His body.

 

When we are not at peace with others in the body of Christ, we need to seek the Lord’s wisdom, understanding, and insight into the causes for the distance. Then, we should seek to move together to resolve the differences. As long as we are staying close to Christ and are following His will, there is no room for discord in His family. This doesn’t mean that we will all agree on everything, for we are created to think and to hold our positions passionately, but it does mean that we need to be able to love and to care for and about each other absolutely regardless of these differences. Christ takes each of us from where we have been in life, and He moves us together, and the rallying point for that coming together is Christ, Himself.

 

 

And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.

Ephesians 2: 17

 

If only people could learn to compromise. This is the exasperated lament of many of us today as a vast array of big issues remain unresolved and without solution. I do hold that there is much to commend the practice of compromise when it comes to governance and the management of society. Yet, I think that there is something else involved in the way that God would see people learn to live together peacefully in this world. The Lord doesn’t call upon us to compromise; rather, He desires for us to move away from our tightly held positions on everything and move toward Him and His singular point of view on all that we think, feel, and do.

 

In order for us to do this, we need to start to function in a manner that is like the one that God uses with us. God listens well, and He hears what we are saying both in the words of it and in the emotion that is behind those words. He also knows us in a manner that goes deep into our hearts and minds, and even with this knowledge, which includes our darkest secrets and our doubts and fears, the Lord still seeks to engage with each of us. He pours out His love, grace, and mercy upon us as He also brings the full weight of His truth and righteousness to bear upon our choices and decisions. In Christ, we find God’s great love in direct contact with humanity’s abandonment of relationship with our Creator, and the purpose of that contact is redemption and the reconciliation of our lost bodies and souls to God’s absolutely loving presence.

 

So, it seems that the real and true starting point for resolution of all that is difficult and to the conflict in our world is Christ. The strife, violence, and loss of our world will cease only when Christ returns and reigns over the restored order of creation that will become the new and eternal world at that time. However, that should not stop those of us who know Christ from living today as He would have us live. That would mean that we would seek to apply the truth of God’s Word in its totality to all that we think and do and also that we would strive to hear all others well and to attempt to get to know them in a deep and real way so that when we listen to them we can actually hear what is being spoken to us. This also suggests that we would be bold and brave enough to hold fast to what is non-negotiable from God’s perspective while inviting Christ to be our anchor point of truth and belief. In this world where disagreement is our common language, Christ speaks forth a different dialect as He leads His people into the conciliation of peace and the restorative hope of His grace and love.

And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near.

Ephesians 2: 17

 

We live in a world that seems to understand distance a lot better than it does intimacy. Some of our strongest cultural aspirations involve striving for total independence, gaining control of our own destiny, and becoming strong individuals. Although there is value to be found in the self development that is at the center of this process, and each person should set goals to pursue, too many of us also make ourselves the central focus of this effort and lose sight of the importance of caring for and of serving our community. Also, as we do this we move away from Christ and His central role in making real strength possible.

 

The sort of strength that can withstand the forces that come at us in life is not found individually, and although people seek after security and economic advantage through national treaties and alliances, these are doomed to the failure that mistrust and self-interest create. Christ provides us with the only effective answer to all of the need for community that we have, for He works in the depths of our souls to transformatively change us. This newness that Christ brings about is neither temporal so that its solely external quality is readily washed away by the tides of fortune, nor is it temporary so that it can be set aside when the current situation becomes less comfortable. Christ changes us into beings who are more like Him, and He desires to bring people into the committed relational unity of His body.

 

When we are not at peace with others in the body of Christ, we need to seek the Lord’s wisdom, understanding, and insight into the causes for the distance. Then, we should seek to move together to resolve the differences. As long as we are staying close to Christ and are following His will, there is no room for discord in His family. This doesn’t mean that we will all agree on everything, for we are created to think and to hold our positions passionately, but it does mean that we need to be able to love and to care for and about each other absolutely regardless of these differences. Christ takes each of us from where we have been in life, and He moves us together, and the rallying point for that coming together is Christ, Himself.