Sunday, March 22, 2015

Being at peace with the un-peaceable

our time in a village in Zambia. A relationship
with the Pastor and family which blessed us
Relationships are either a blessing or a curse. They will make or break one’s heart. The Bible is a relationship manual as well as many other things. It tells you about having a relationship with God (previous blog plus one) and being happy in yourself (previous blog). It also give good advice on how to relate to those I’ll call ‘the un-peaceable!’

Unless you are a hermit (even then you have to live with yourself) you will know various depths of relationships. We cannot escape from relationships with family, friends, workmates and acquaintances. Each one is detailed within Scripture. The one(s) I’m writing about deal more with friends and acquaintances. Family peace is for another blog.

We all have our histories, hurts and habits and unless we enjoy being at peace with God and ourselves they will infect our relationships. Herein is our difficulty. We might be at peace yet we will be mixing and mingling with many who are not. The results of these relationships will vary from the thankless to the traumatic, from frustration to failure and from exploited to exhilarating. Being a Christian also opens us up to being nice to the nasty which, without wisdom, can scar our own spiritual outlook.

Jesus took relationships seriously, easily seen as you read the Gospels. His manner with people sets us some guidelines which will safeguard our heart and faith. Jesus talked about wolves in sheep clothing who seek an intimacy for ulterior motives. It results in the sheep being devoured (Matthew 7:15). But then it seems strange to read in Matthew 10:16 that Jesus said to His disciples: “See, I’m sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves.” In effect Jesus was putting the ‘sheep’ in charge of the relationship. The aim, to convert wolves into sheep. But He added, be wise as serpents, harmless as doves and ‘beware of them’ (the wolves). Whilst the Bible highlights religious wolves there are many other wild dogs such as sexual and financial predators.

Notice, however, how Jesus treated His relationship with Judas. The betrayer was treated with genuine affection and was warned about what he was going to do. The same applied to Peter who also betrayed his Lord. What should they teach us when someone lets us down or breaks a trust? The prayer of Jesus on the cross covered them both. We know Peter repented with a broken heart. Judas? We can forgive. We can offer new beginnings. We will need to still be alert until they prove themselves to be trustworthy once again.

Romans 12:18: If it is possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all.’ Did you notice the ‘rider’? What should you do when you do your best, pray a lot, be gracious only to be confronted by a ‘un-peaceable’ person? Steer clear. Keep out of the person’s way. Move under his/her ‘radar. Don’t stop praying for him/her but avoidance is wisdom as well as good for your spiritual sanity.

1 Corinthians 15:33: ‘Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.’ This may your story or mine. It isn’t the end, fortunately, for the Lord has the power to deliver and forgive. Many though take this warning lightly regarding relationships and end up in a moral, mental and miserable mess. Again, our responsibility is to share the knowledge of God’s grace with such ‘bad company.’ We are told to do it with a sober and right mind being right with God. That will have an effect upon the ‘bad company’ one way or another.

1 John 1:7 ‘if we walk in the light as he himself (Jesus) is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.’ Here is the secret, if one was needed, to being at peace with others. It comes from an ongoing relationship with Jesus which empowers us to be merciful, understanding, gracious and forbearing with one another. It is the foundation for accepting cultural diversity sanctified by commitment to Christ Jesus, Ephesians 2:13-21.

I’m always saddened when I read of Christians being ‘at war’ with one another, split apart or ‘rock-throwers.’ Being ‘un-peaceable’ is actually a testimony to one or both not walking in the fellowship of light with Jesus as their Lord. The One we call the Prince of Peace is unable to bless such individuals, groups or congregations. All that can change the moment any of us who are playing in the ‘fields of moral or spiritual greyness or blackness.’ It happens when we lift up our ‘eyes with faith and sincerity’ to Jesus and ask for mercy. The proof our genuineness will be seen in in how we then related to those with whom and to whom we have been ‘un-peaceable!’


©Ray Hawkins March 23 2015.

Next week: The Paradox of Prayer.

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