The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of peace is sown in peace by those who make peace.

James 3: 17, 18

 

Peace is hard to find. This is not a profound thought. No one should be reading this statement and gasping in amazement at the new truth revealed by it. Our world is saturated by the heavy air of tension. It suffocates us, and it forces most people into various forms of self-protective isolation, disengagement, and separation. The descriptive adjectives of our day are strife, discord, and disagreement. Our society is simply not very sociable. The way that we are going about seeking solution and resolution is very challenging, too. It seems that most of the conversation these days involves either placing a large amount of hope in our political and economic systems, or it concludes in utter cynicism and with resignation to a form of cultural hopelessness.

 

Frankly, it seems to me that both placing trust in our human devised systems and cynical hopelessness are missing the point of living in a world that is ruled by the great King. As His subjects, we can live in the center of a form of peace that is not dependant upon outcomes of elections, employment rates, global trade deficits, and legislative actions. According to James, peace starts with wisdom. This is the wisdom that comes from God, for that is the only form of wisdom that will withstand the refining test of the fiery trial that is life in our world. God’s Word is the only source of wisdom that can actually inform our minds and orient our hearts toward living in a manner that brings about peace. This is not a soft, compromised form of peace. God’s peace is defined by its relentless and unyielding nature. It seeks to bring healing to the hearts of people as it draws us together in a community of faith.

 

The truth of God’s will as it is revealed in His Word, by Christ’s Spirit, and within the Body should lead us to exude a form of gentleness, reasonableness, and mercy that is super natural. This is seen in the way that we engage in the discourse of life. It is expressed in an easy comfort with living out justice, grace, and understanding in a manner that points directly to Christ. It is made known in our world by our ability to engage truthfully in the hard conversations of our society without destroying our relationships with people who we disagree with. Peace is a crop that requires constant attention and care. Its fruit is not always rapidly realized. It often grows deep under ground in the silence and the cold of a harsh winter; yet, the bounty of summer is close at hand. Peacemakers meditate upon wisdom and act out of Christ’s love.

 

 

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.

Galatians 6: 7

 

So much of what we take as important in our culture is little more than a popularity contest. Our minds are very easy to convince that this or that product or person has all of the answers for us. We humans are easily lured into believing and supporting almost anything if it has the right wrapper on it. We like the shiny new toy, the clever words, and the leader-like stance and bravado. Substance has little value in making these decisions, and standing solidly on a foundation of righteousness is off the table when we determine who we will vote for.

 

All of this is truly a sad commentary when you consider that we were created by God to be thinking beings that have the wisdom of our Creator available to us. In general, humanity is the great underachieving child of the universe. Most of us seemingly choose to exist in this developmentally challenged classroom of life where we are easily manipulated and never achieve the success of graduation. It is almost as if we enjoy the easy ride through our days that is provided by allowing others to do the thinking for us so that we don’t need to be prepared to explain in real, substantive terms why and how we have reached the decisions that we have made. This is true when it comes to relatively frivolous things like toothpaste and clothing, and it is disturbingly true when it comes to choices that have long-term impacts such as national leaders.

 

However, try as we might to leave God out of our thinking and decision making, He is still involved in all that happens in this world. God is jealous of where our hearts are aligned, and He will not allow us to live in a manner that effectively makes light of Him and that discounts His position as Lord and King. There will be consequences for the decisions that we make and the loyalty that we grant. It is not that God cares about the brand of products that we use or the style of clothes that we wear, but He does want us to consider our consumption of goods and services wisely and with a view to the needs of others in our world. Additionally, God will not be surprised and His Kingdom will not suffer loss as a result of the political choices that we make; however, He does desire for us to make those choices based upon criteria that are founded in righteousness and upon His view of kingdom living. I think that God values justice, life, and the pursuit of His articulated way above economics, power, and convenience. God grants His people the ability to make decisions that are based upon His eternal economy of life, and our Lord desires for us to use the reasoning and thinking abilities that He has given to us in order to reach these conclusions in a manner that glorifies rather than mocks Him.

 

 

Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

Deuteronomy 16: 20

 

Certainly we all want and seek after justice. Why would it be any other way? Justice is what makes this world seem fair, and it is what allows us to trust in our social systems. Yet, what passes for justice in our culture is often perverted, held back, or completely absent from the scene. Considering that Moses is warning the nation ofIsraelabout God’s concerns regarding their application of justice, it would seem that the problem of actually living as a just society is not such a modern issue. The desire to receive just treatment is fundamental to human endeavor. Likewise, our reluctance to grant it to others runs deeply in our fallen hearts.

 

Justice is the last thing that Satan wants for us to honestly embrace. He is served by people who hold a distorted and a perverted view of what it means to live justly. God’s view of justice involves a system where our treatment of others can not be bought or sold. There should be no price that can be paid in order to receive proper treatment from people that have position, power, and authority. Also, there are no people who are so empowered and authorized who will change their ruling or alter their perspective based upon another’s ability or willingness to pay. Justice, as God views it, requires us to be willing to do all that is in our power to see to it that everyone is treated with dignity, respect, and in a manner that seeks to build up both the individual and the society.

 

The application of justice involves sacrifice. We need to be willing to give away opportunities to gain status and power in order to treat others in this manner. Living in a just land is often a dirty and a messy business. The people that we need to engage with in order to bring it about are quite often the poor, the disadvantaged, and the lost. They can be people who are easy to pass by, and frequently they are the ones that we desire with all of our hearts to ignore in the hopes that they won’t speak to us. These people are the ones that the brokenness of sin has marked as easy targets. These are the members of society that Jesus walked up to and embraced with the warmth and the compassion of the Father. These people are you and I in any number of possible circumstances. These disadvantaged and damaged souls are equally made in God’s image. They are our neighbors and our brothers and sisters.