Peace versus Polarization

The Apostle Paul had a lot to say about how we control what we think about, how we respond to others, and living our lives in the peace of Christ. In Philippians 4:8-9, he wrote, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

In today’s polarized world where holding a different opinion is perceived as a personal attack and an act of hatred, we would do well to put Paul’s instructions into practice. It’s interesting that he refers to God as “the God of peace.” Jesus promised us that “My peace I give to you…” (John 14:27) And Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” These are to be the defining characteristics of a Jesus-follower. Paul even described this as “lead[ing] a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity…” which is “good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,” (1 Timothy 2:2-3) In fact, he wrote that we are to make it our ambition “to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your own hands.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11)

In Romans 12:18 Paul instructs us “if possible, so far as it depends upon you, be at peace with all men.” There seems to be a very high priority on living in peace, at peace with ones’ self, at peace with God, and at peace with the people around us, It really is a defining characteristic of an authentic Jesus-follower — and it is totally contradictory of the spirit of this world that keeps hostilities and chaos stirred up all around us.

One of my favorite prophetic descriptions of Messiah is found in Isaiah 42:1-4 and it is quoted by Matthew in Matthew 12:18-21 as being fulfilled in the life and ministry of Jesus. “Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel, nor cry out; nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. A battered reed He will not break off, and a smoldering wick He will not put out, until He leads justice to victory. And in His name the Gentiles will hope.”

As Jesus-followers, we would do well to follow in His example and embrace the instructions of Paul regarding living at peace with all men and making our ambition to lead a tranquil and quiet life rather than a boisterous, condemning, hate-filled chaotic life.

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