1 Thess. 5:13 Live in peace with one another. 1John 1:7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
I appreciate Harv's message on The Peace of Jesus, and have been meditating on some of the morsels presented. My perspective usually wanders off into the practical realm, so was thinking about how we believers can (should) live at peace with one another as part of the manifestation of that "peace of Jesus." HE has provided for it (shalom)... therefore, the precedent and the grace has already been given for all to walk in that peace. Learning to communicate properly with other believers could be a great place to start.
Sometimes when we try to help others to be reconciled together or bring some light into a conflict, it is helpful to give both parties some communication tools so that they can even begin the process. I remember past times when Edith and I were unable to communicate about certain things because the emotions were running so high and the pain and frustration were so great. Any attempt to communicate resulted in a volcano of anger and accusation that spewed out and derailed any attempt at reconciliation. Sooo... we learned to write letters to one another.
Both of us knew that we needed to communicate in order to bring resolution, but were unable to communicate properly without accusing or belittling one another. So we would write letters to one another and abide by a few simple principles. Here are a few that were helpful:
So, how does this apply to peace in the BOC? Let me present an example that might shed some light... if I could share my heart for a bit.
There is an underlying philosophy in much of the BOC that says the most important aspect of Christianity is to have our doctrine correct. So much of the dialogue in many circles is dedicated to debating, arguing, presenting our opinion, trying to persuade others to agree with our points, etc. I think I've seen more relationships damaged, and more folks alienated from others (who happen to be their brothers and sisters) by this process than any other I can think of. And most of the disagreements are probably not that important anyway.
Case in point... one of my friends presented one of the views of the rapture (pre, mid, post, etc.) and insisted that it was the ONLY scriptural possibility for the rapture. I don't usually talk about those ideas much as I don't think it matters much what someones opinion is, as Jesus is returning at the proper time regardless of man's (my) opinion. Anyway, I decided to counter with one of the other viewpoints (several of them can be backed up with scripture) just to see where this would go. My friend had made up his mind that his view was right and mine was not scriptural and therefore heresy. I knew at that point that we would not likely have a strong spiritual relationship if we couldn't at least listen to each other's opinion.
Seems like dogma (that's the stuff you get on your shoe in my yard---just kidding) won the debate and relationships suffered. And if a discussion on rapture theology caused a separation (it often does), how much more some of the more important Biblical doctrines? And how fruitful is argument and debate in settling these questions?
I believe the only "unity" that occurs is "in the Holy Spirit." Eph. 4. There's a good article (In Forums) on Christian Unity. Certainly there are core doctrines in Christianity (virgin birth, sinless life, vicarious death, resurrection, etc.) that are open to very little interpretation, but most divisions I've see in the BOC are relating to some of the less important items. Anyway, I'd like to present a few radical ideas that might help all of us on our journey toward peace in the family of God.
Most of us who grew up in evangelical circles started out with a real heart to share the gospel and see folks coming to salvation. It was fruitful and life giving. But, as we grew, some of us moved more into a teaching ministry or perhaps a prophetic or apostolic arena. This didn't mean that the evangelical ministry was not good and God, it just meant that there are different gifts and callings in HIS body and that, as we grow and find out where we fit, our perspective may change, and our ministry as well. How many ministries have run off the tracks because they couldn't include other complementary ministries into their paradigm. For example, evangelism without discipleship can have a huge washout rate, but if they (evangelism and discipleship) are combined together (often with different ministries), many more "converts" can become functional disciples in the body.
Argument and debate is worlds away from "coming together in the Spirit." I believe that PROPER SPIRITUAL COMMUNICATION AND FELLOWSHIP is crucial to the balance and well being of God's body on the earth. Balance doesn't mean that we all walk exactly at the center of the pendulum swing. It means that each of us is balanced by others who may be at another (even opposite) position on the pendulum. Different gifts, callings, maturity and perspective may move the pendulum in different directions... we need each other in the BOC to walk closer to the that balance point, which is the place of fullness of life in Christ.
Let's DO Life!