Monday, 5 March 2012

Harmony and Peace-making

Anyone who says they automatically get on with everyone is lying.
None of us, even the most kind and loving nun-like people out there, will find it easy to "like" everyone we meet. Most of the time we're going to clash, aren't we.
And then there are the times that things just turn sour. A friendship goes bad, a relationship breaks up, words get spoken, hurt occurs. Try liking that person. Not so easy. Then try forgiving them. Really hard.
I'm pondering all this stuff in relation to churches and christians and how on earth we are meant to be the light of the world when we look exactly like everybody else. If it were possible to stick hidden cameras inside the living rooms of all the christians and tape us for a week I bet we'd be pretty horrified. It makes me so sad.
Now, let me make it quite clear - I'm not bagging about my particular church. I looooovvvveee my church with all it's reality and imperfections, all of us together with our hurts and our joys and our dreams. This post isn't a finger pointing exercise. 
I'm not sitting here on a high horse pretending I'm perfect. But I am trying. And that's what I want for us as the church of God, the bride of Christ, His people, His children. To at least make an honest, heart-felt attempt at doing the stuff we're told to do in the word. Rather than perhaps exhausting our energy talking about everyone else we've decided has got it wrong.
I'm really sorry if this is a downer, that's not really my intention. If I could preach a sermon this week it'd be on peace-making. I remember reading in the last few months somewhere, that peace-making involves conflict, and confrontation. Sometimes to be a peacemaker is to disrupt the "peace". Especially if the peace is fake.
I've been trawling through the new testament tonight and there is verse, after verse, after verse telling us what we need to do as Christians, as the church. They are so beautiful. Such an incredibly amazing picture of the potential we have.
Here goes:

"I beg you to live a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love. Always keep yourselves united in the Holy Spirit, and bind yourselves together in peace." Ephesians 4:1-3

"May the Lord make your love grow and overflow to each other and to everyone else, just as our love overflows toward you." 1 Thessalonians 3:12

"I pray that your love for each other will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in your knowledge and understanding." Phillippians 1:9

"Make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other , loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose." Phillippians 2: 2

"My goal is that they will be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love." Colossians 2:2

"You must make allowances for one anothers faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you , so you must forgive others. And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace. And always be thankful." Colossians 3:13-15

"But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no partiality and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of goodness." James 3: 17&18

"So get rid of all malicious behaviour and deceit. Don't just pretend to be good! Be done with hypocrisy and jealousy and backstabbing" 1 Peter 2:1

"All of you should be of one mind, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. Don't repay evil for evil. Don't retaliate when people say unkind things about you. instead pay them back with a blessing." 1 Peter 3:8&9

"If anyone says "I am living in the light," but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is still living in darkness." 1 John 2:9

"If someone says "I love God," but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar, for if we don't love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we have not seen? And God himself has commanded that we must love not only him but our Christian brohters and sisters too". 1 John 4:20&21

"Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions." 1 John 3:18

"Don't just pretend that you love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other." Romans 12:9&10

"If people persecute you because you are a Christian, don't curse them; pray that God will bless them. When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow.  Live in harmony with each other." Romans 12:14&15

"Do your part to live in peace with everyone, as much as possible." Romans 12:18

"Stop arguing among yourselves. Let there be real harmony so there won't be divisons in the church. I plead with you to be of one mind, united in thought and purpose". 1 Corinthians 1:10

"And everything you do must be done with love" 1 Corinthians 16:14

It's just heart-breakingly, breath-takingly, unbelievably beautiful. I want to be a part of that so much. A couple of years ago I had a revelation, sometimes it's not enough to just forgive. Sometimes you need to move beyond forgiveness into love. Is it easy? No. But when you trust God, when you know yourself held in his arms, loved unconditionally, and you know that he wants what is best for you... then he will give you the courage to risk it all and forgive, and forgive again. And as Joyce Meyer says, do it for yourself. Set yourself free. Let God be the judge, and quit trying to deal out the punishment on your own.
I ponder these things, and I feel a knot in my stomach, and I try to figure out how on earth we make this fit into our church boxes and our little Christian worlds...

God, change my heart, turn my world upside down, make us reflect You... in harmony, at peace, full of love. Amen.

A new favourite song:

xx Sarah

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