The pursuit of peace
June 10th, 2020
By Janet Denison
The best conclusion to a good argument is arriving at a place of understanding, knowing how each person involved is somewhat right and somehow wrong.
Our country is probably better off than any of us think, but, right now, it just seems like a mess. It’s the truth that will bring about permanent change, but the truth is that every side is partly right and partly wrong.
Until all are able to speak honestly and rationally about facts, the problems will continue.
Conflict is a normal part of life
The good news is that, throughout our history, some of the best adjustments in our thinking have taken place after arguments.
God already has a plan to redeem the hurt, for a greater good, if we will be called to his good purpose. (Romans 8:28).
So what is God’s purpose?
Romans 14:19 says, “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”
I often teach that one of the most important words of a verse is the verb. Romans 14:19 teaches that we are to pursue those things that bring about peace and the mutual good of everyone.
I expect that our country will heal—if we can recognize that everyone involved is somewhat right and somehow wrong.
If we pursue those things that bring peace and mutual upbuilding, we can arrive at a place of change that will be based on truth. Truth will likely humble and help everyone involved.
Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31–32).
What is the truth?
In that same passage, Jesus tells us why complete truth evades most of us at times. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34).
Every human being is enslaved by, or controlled by, our sin natures. Our salvation gifted us with the indwelling of Christ, through his Holy Spirit. We are able to be filled with, or controlled by, his Spirit, but that is a free-will choice.
We live in a culture that was quick to believe Oprah when she used the phrase “personal truth.” In other words, truth can be what seems right, or feels right, personally.
It will just take a minute to think about those words and realize that “personal truth” is just another way of saying “personal opinion.”
Truth isn’t based on what seems true or feels true to a person. Truth is not personal because it transcends opinions.
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
That’s why Jesus could tell those disciples, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).
Our daily choices are because we are enslaved to the Holy Spirit of Christ or because we are enslaved to our human nature in the moment. None of us is completely free, yet as Christians, we are completely saved, but we don’t enjoy the full benefits of our salvation until heaven.
Choose truth; choose freedom
I hope that when tempers calm, truth will be spoken by people who realize its high value. Everyone is right and everyone is wrong—because everyone is an imperfect human being.
We are free to speak, but if we are enslaved to Christ, we are not to speak freely. If we are enslaved to Christ, we allow him to speak his words of truth, peace, and mutual upbuilding through us.
God’s word has been changing people’s lives since the beginning of time. The freedom we all need is the freedom to live enslaved by God’s thoughts, which are the truths, spoken by his Holy Spirit, in agreement with Scripture.
Why do people still suffer?
One of my life verses is from the book of Hosea. God spoke to the prophet Hosea during one of the darkest times in human and church history. I’ve often said that God’s words to Hosea have been the reason I keep teaching and writing.
God told Hosea, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).
People are being destroyed by opinions because they have rejected the knowledge of God. Jesus is their Messiah. He is the way, the truth, and the eternal life they need. And there is suffering in our world because they have forgotten the God who created and redeemed it through his Son.
People suffer now, and will suffer eternally, if we don’t help them know God through salvation in Christ.
The thought that prompts
If you are like me, words fail. I don’t know how to speak my thoughts well. I don’t know who to speak them to. I don’t know if I should speak at all.
But the thought that prompts me today is the knowledge that I know the One who will always speak the truth—and the truth will set us all free from sinful thoughts, words, and actions. His word is truth and is therefore the solution to our struggles.
People suffer when they lack knowledge of God’s truth. May the Lord help all of us quiet our opinions so Jesus can speak his truth through us.
Let’s take time to pray Samuel’s prayer, “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears” (1 Samuel 3:9). God speaks to servants who take time to listen.
Maybe our words need to fail right now so we will take the time to listen for his words.
It’s his truth that matters and his truth that will help.
Let’s live consistently aware that we have a high calling. We are to be enslaved to God for his good purpose.
“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”
Let’s be servants who listen.