Living In Peace With One Another
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.
Eph.4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
New Testament scripture always points toward the fact that there is ONE church ... one universal church on the earth and one local church in each city. The local "churches" are all a part of the universal church. Just as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one, all of the "churches" also are one according to scripture.
I'd like to develop the point that there are actually TWO churches (or at least two things that we call "the church") that are entwined together. One is the real church which consists of the people of God (the ecclesia) who are walking in HIS Spirit and focused on HIM (the one described above in Ephesians 4), and another which is the religious order which we often call the "church." This order is part of the "world systems." You can see it in operation when people are more concerned with liturgies, religious order, money, admiration of men, etc. When their love is for the things of the world. Understanding the difference can free God's people to better represent Jesus as they utilize some of the worldly assets of the "church" (buildings, leaders, finances, etc.) but remain focused on "life in the Spirit" and free of having those "things" become their main priority.
The Pre-eminence of Christ
There are many relevant aspects of the kingdom of God as it is revealed in His body. Here are a few which come to mind. Each of these is important and must be carefully considered in the life of the ecclesia, BUT, there is one that must be positioned far and above all the others for any of them to be applicable.
Prejudice In The Body of Christ
Most folks have an understanding of the word prejudice. Those of us who were around during the civil rights era can remember some of the intense issues, conflicts and emotions of that time and how they have changed and shaped our culture and society, even today. We continue to see prejudice in various intensities and manifestations against Jews, Arabs, blacks, whites, Christians, social classes, educational backgrounds, etc., etc. The fallen world in which we live is full of prejudice, and this prejudice lives on in spite of efforts to educate, motivate and manipulate the minds of the masses. The racial prejudice of the civil rights era may have changed, but the core issues are still present. Human differences still fuel prejudice.
My concern is related to another type of prejudice . . . one which is more subtle and in my estimation, more dangerous and far reaching than the other.
Walk As One Man
Matt. 11:28 "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
This scripture expresses the heart of Jesus to His followers. It has brought comfort and solace to countless pilgrims throughout history, and continues to inspire and help those in need. Normally, we look at the fact that Jesus was offering us rest and relief from our burdens. But I'd like to concentrate on another part of the scripture having to do with the yoke or being yoked with Jesus. To do that, I need to tell you a story ---.
Chaos To Order
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
In the beginning was God. God was everything. He was eternal. He had (and has) no limits---no boundaries---no lack whatsoever. He was God. He envisioned a universe, an earth, time and space, and a human who was to be created in HIS image, and out of that vision HE created the heavens and the earth.
BUT the creation at this point was "formless and void." We might use the word "chaos" to describe the scene. It was an empty wasteland without form---without order. It was dark. It was chaotic.
Moving On To John 17
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him may not perish, but have life eternal. Joh 3:17 For God has not sent his Son into the world that he may judge the world, but that the world may be saved through him. John 3:16 is the pillar of evangelical Christian theology and, I understand, the best known scripture in the world. It has given the message of life to many who have looked for a place of hope in which to lay down their burdens and enter into the peace of God's kingdom. It is certainly the core of the gospel message of salvation, and is the door of understanding God's love for a dying world. I know many Christians who have based their life on this wonderful scripture, and have moved into a life of fullness and blessing. I know others who have believed in the Savior and have the hope of heaven, but seem to be unable to transition from the future hope of heaven into that transformed life that Jesus promised to His believers in this life. Remember that hope is the starting place, but transformation is the fullness of God's plan.
A More Excellent Way
Through the years, I've seen the BOC (traditional and nontraditional) being distracted and misdirected as people concentrate on doctrinal positions, specific revelations and personal views and agendas. Much of the energy of the BOC (body of Christ) is expended on defending these ideals and trying to justify them to others, trying to convince people to agree with our cause or philosophy and to forsake theirs. Many have made a ministry of "bringing correction" in the name of "standing for truth."
A House Divided
In Matthew 12, we see Jesus being confronted by the Pharisees because HE had (in their eyes) violated the Sabbath by (1) allowing his disciples to pick and eat grain from the fields, (2) healing the man with the withered hand, and (3) delivering a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute---all on the Sabbath. HE was accused of casting out the demons by the power of Belzebul, the ruler of the demons.
Jesus responded by explaining that "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand." Matt. 12:25
An Apostle I Knew
Much ado is being made about modern day apostles and prophets. We hear of new "apostolic" networks and ministries, with their "impartation meetings" and "apostolic anointings." Everybody who is somebody in the body of Christ is now an apostle. Even the prophets are becoming apostles. Maybe the pastors are becoming prophets to fill the vacuum? Apostles are people who are sent by God to a specific people or for a specific mission. We've often used the word "missionary" in place of "apostle" because of the connotation. By definition, an apostle is a "sent one."
Anyway, the Lord reminded me of a very special apostle that I spent time with early in my Christian walk. His name was Tacho. He was probably in his mid 50's when Edith and I met him. He had been a laborer for most of his life, barely spoke English and was illiterate.
Let's DO Life!