Tag Archive for peace

Overcoming the World: Part 5–As Far as it Depends on You

 

Constantly rejoicing in hope [because of our confidence in Christ], steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer [continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength], contributing to the needs of God’s people, pursuing [the practice of] hospitality.

 Bless those who persecute you [who cause you harm or hardship]; bless and do not curse [them].  Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief].  Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty [conceited, self-important, exclusive], but associate with humble people [those with a realistic self-view].  Do not overestimate yourself.  Never repay anyone evil for evil.  Take thought for what is right and gracious and proper in the sight of everyone.  If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  (Romans 12:12-18 AMP)
Well, the election’s finally over, and as expected, it has stirred up more issues than it has settled.

 

As is usually the case, Truthseekers were at a loss throughout this election, since Truth and politics are generally not found in the same place at the same time.  Some of us voted defensively, some of us searched in vain for a viable third party candidate, and some of us just stayed home.  Now that what’s done is done, we’re all asking ourselves the same question.  “What do we do now?”

 

Well, the answer is the same thing we’ve always done.  Seek Truth in the common ground.  But how do you find common ground in a nation so divided?

 

I covered a lot of this during the last election in the Us and Them series.  However, since it seems to me that strife and discord have been amped up significantly this time around, I would like to focus on the concept of peace and the part we have to play in it.

 

We are called to hate what is evil and cling to what is good.  In a climate such as this, I would suggest that we focus on the clinging to what is good part.  It’s too easy when emotions are running high to go from hating WHAT is evil to projecting that righteous hatred onto people, which is the line we should never cross.  If the news is raising your blood pressure, watch something else.  If your “friends” on social media are stirring the pot with their ignorance, get off Facebook and go put your face in a book.  Better still, put your face in THE Book.  Remember, all evil things will eventually pass away, and the good will remain.  So why expend our energy on things that won’t last?

 

We aren’t supposed to judge people anyway, but we REALLY need to get past this judging people by whom they voted for.  I think most of us can agree that there were no good choices this year, so why should we judge someone else’s choice?

 

That person you’re angry at because he or she voted differently than you and is venting about it on social media—who was that person to you before the election?  Did you respect him or her then?  So why not now?  No one’s inherent worth is diminished by a single ballot.  Remember that.

 

A Truthseeker’s objective is to end arguments, not start them.  It is not our place to try to inject moral superiority into the discussion.  For this reason, I urge patience above all.  Resist the temptation to “correct” people, even if they are obviously wrong.  When people are angry or upset, the lids of their minds are fastened tightly, and you aren’t going to reach them anyway.  Pray for peace and reason to return to our society, and wait patiently for this to pass, because it will.  Dust can’t settle if you stir it up.

 

Look for ways to be kind to people.  The needy are still needy, so don’t forget them.  Let wherever you are be the “safe space” where discussion of politics doesn’t have to happen.  There are so many other things to talk about.

 

Don’t take the bait when some fool on the internet calls you out, directly or collectively, for how you voted and/or the motivations behind your vote.  Justice is God’s job.  If they have it coming to them, they will receive it in their due time.  This is a good opportunity to practice forgiveness.  After all, our sins are forgiven to the degree that we forgive.

 

I don’t really know that there were any “winners” in this election, but there are many who will lose.  I am not suggesting that the criminal element of our society that would riot and destroy and call it a “protest” should be treated with compassion and understanding, but there are many people who stand to lose something dear to them in the upcoming administration.  Be compassionate while they grieve their loss.

 

Make the most of every opportunity to establish common ground with people, preferably face to face.  Listen to their stories.  See people as individuals and not as members of a group.  Come alongside people in their difficulties.  Focus on solutions rather than problems.  Above all, pray first, and listen carefully for an answer, before presuming to dispense wisdom.  When tensions run high, even the most well meaning of advice can be perceived as an attack.

 

And PLEASE avoid the temptation to seek revenge, whether in word or deed.  That is NEVER our job.  It is natural to feel some sense of satisfaction when the times shift in your direction after they have been against you, but it is not our place to rub anyone’s nose in their own misfortune.  You will never earn someone’s respect by spiking the football.  Just hand it to the official and go back to the sideline.  Justice is God’s job, and part of that is righting wrongs.  It will happen in His timing.  Don’t force the issue.

 

Most importantly, it is up to you to make the first move toward peace.  You will have to use your best judgment with each individual you encounter as to whether that means actively extending an olive branch or remaining silent.  Things are going to be ugly for a while.  They may get out of control for a time as well.  You have a choice to make it better or make it worse.

 

You may not be able to single-handedly fix what’s broken in our nation, but how you treat other people is one thing that you CAN control.  So stand firm, pray hard, and keep hoping for the best.  It WILL get better eventually.

 

Overcoming the World: Part 1–Peace

I have told you these things, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you have oppression; but cheer up!  I have overcome the world.  John 16:33 (WEB)

 

Ever have a day where it seems like the world is just coming down on you and everything seems hopeless?  Ever have about five months in a row like that?  I did.  That’s why you haven’t heard from me in a while.

 

It isn’t that anything traumatic happened in my life in this stretch of time.  I just ran into an extended dry spell where my faith wasn’t keeping up with my circumstances.  Election years in general do that to me, and this has been the worst one ever.

 

In times like these, we Truthseekers need to get a grip on ourselves (and each other) and simply remember just Who it is that’s really running the show, whether or not we are aware of it.

 

God’s goal is never to confound us, but to bring us peace.  Another way to word that would be “confidence.”  He wants us to rest assured that He is not only bigger than whatever comes our way, but that our circumstances are all a part of his plan.

 

There are so many ways that we can learn from adversity.  Sometimes it’s a course correction if we are going a way that we should not be.  Sometimes it’s to find out that we are really stronger than we thought we were.  But sometimes it’s the opposite of that.  Sometimes God allows us to walk through difficult seasons as a means to get us to STOP relying on our own strength and to rely on His instead.

 

That sure sounds like the right thing to say from a spiritual standpoint, but it sure doesn’t feel that way when you’re going through it, does it?  I really admire people who hold unswervingly to their faith when going through things like extended illnesses or financial hardships.  I am one who wants things fixed, and fixed NOW, so I can get on with my life.  Trials and tribulations are an obstacle to my plans.

 

If you think this way, as I often do, that’s the indicator that you’re getting off track.  Because if you’re most concerned about your own plans, then you’re not in submission to God.  He knows what’s best for us, and more importantly, He knows what’s coming next.

 

Maybe it’s just part of being American, but I can get so bent out of shape over my first-world inconveniences.  I can count the major trials I have had in my life on one hand.  They are significant, but they are not a daily occurrence.  We get so spoiled in this country that we forget all too easily that troubles are a normal part of a normal life.

 

The world can be frustrating.  The people in it can be REALLY frustrating.  However, it is pointless to allow ourselves to be mastered by our frustration.  There will be things in this world that we can not conquer, but Jesus has already conquered everything that ultimately matters.

 

Doubt: Part 3–Cloudy

 

Imagine you’re at a funeral on a cloudy day.  Then the sun comes out from behind a cloud.

 

Now if you are a scientific, buttoned-down, fact-based kind of a person, the first thing you would say is that the sun didn’t move–the cloud did.  You could give a meteorological explanation of prevailing winds, condensation, etc., and you would be factually correct in your explanation.  But you would be completely missing the point.

 

Now imagine at that same funeral on that same cloudy day, you are the grieving father standing over the grave of your first-born son.

 

You have never believed in God, though you have heard of him.  You have doubts about your child’s eternal destiny, because he hadn’t been baptized, and you don’t know what is real and what is bogus from a theological standpoint, because you have little intellectual knowledge of God.

 

All you know is that you turned your life upside-down to welcome this child into the world, and now he is gone, just as quickly as he came, and your world has been turned upside-down all over again.

 

Then, through the cloudy haze of your grief, you hear what the preacher is saying over your son’s grave.  You have never heard this minister before; you don’t go to his church, you have no idea what their Statements of Belief are.  But he is speaking words of peace and comfort, and even though you don’t understand what they all mean, they ring true.

 

As he finishes speaking, and says “Amen,” at that moment, the sun comes out from behind the cloud and a single sunbeam shines down on you, the child’s mother who is sobbing in your arms, the preacher, and the open grave.

 

And you feel warmth where there was only chill, and peace where there was only chaos—a peace that passes all understanding.  A peace that you have never felt before.  And your mind connects the dots for the first time.

 

And you know that God is real.

 

You are angry with him beyond measure for taking your child from you, but you can no longer deny His existence.

 

That was me on October 4, 1989.

 

The day of my son’s funeral was the day I buried my doubt.  I still wanted nothing to do with God, but I knew He was there.

 

It took five more years for God to break through my stubbornness and get me to listen to Him, and another eight for me to finally surrender my life to Him.  Fortunately, God is patient.

 

The point of this illustration is that on that cloudy day, at that funeral, I believed, and had peace.

 

Just like when I was three years old and my parents told the noise I heard was just the wind howling through the trees and not some phantom coming to yank me out of bed, throw me around like a dog with a chew toy, then drag me off to who knows where.

 

I was not able to see the wind, but my parents told me, and I believed.  Though I did not actually know, the belief was good enough to get me to sleep.

 

(How significant is the belief of a child?  Come back for Part 4–Faith)