We pursue lots of different things in this life but I’m not sure we actively pursue peace. From the San Bernardino shootings to the recent night club massacre in Orlando, peace doesn’t seem to be a priority. To me, it just doesn’t seem that our culture today has any interest in pursuing peace. We hear of another fatal mass shooting almost daily. Where’s the peace? Who’s pursuing peace? “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”(Rom.12:17-18) The church at Rome was under intense persecution from the Roman Empire. Paul is encouraging Christians at Rome to do their part to pursue peace with everyone. Even today, we should do everything we possibly can to promote and pursue peace. Jesus is our peace. If we’re in Christ we are at peace with God and have a peace that only comes from God. This peace from God allows the Christian to be at peace no matter what and to pursue peace with others. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”(Phil.4:7) Pursuing peace is pursuing Jesus. Maybe there’s so little peace in our world today because so few are pursuing Jesus. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”(Mt.5:9)
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”(Rom.12:16) As I read those words I can only imagine the problems that must have occurred between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. Jewish Christians struggled with letting go of the old Law of Moses, while the Law meant nothing to the Gentile Christians. Jewish Christians struggled to accept Gentile Christians as their brothers and sisters in Christ as they still felt a sense of superiority. Even though they were one in Christ and family through the blood of Jesus, I’m sure Jewish Christians gravitated toward other Jews and Gentile Christians with other Gentiles. With that potential friction existing in the early church, it’s no wonder Paul wrote the admonition to “live in harmony with one another”. Paul’s admonition to live in harmony still applies today to you and me. It requires effort to live in harmony with those you disagree with. We have to be humble, realizing that we’re not any better than anyone else. We have to be patient with our differences and willing to forgive when forgiveness is needed. If everyone puts forth the effort, living in harmony becomes a reality and a church living in harmony can accomplish far more than a church that’s divided. Christians who live in harmony set a wonderful example for a world that seemingly knows nothing about living in harmony with others.
As long as we’re in this world we will struggle with sin. We are constantly dealing with and striving to overcome the desires of the flesh. So, how do we overcome our sin struggles? How do we fight off sin on a daily basis and not yield to its call? The Bible offers a simple key to overcoming sin. Use your mind! “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”(Rom.6:14) Did you get that? Do not think about how to satisfy the flesh. In other words keep your mind clear of sinful thoughts. If we can keep our mind clean then our actions will be clean as well. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”(II Cor.10:5) If we think it we may do it, but if we don’t think about it, then we won’t do it. We need to use the mind God gave us to our advantage in our battle with sin. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.”(Phil.4:8)
Recently I watched an interview with retired professional golfer Jack Nicklaus. Jack is in his seventies now, so he was in his prime as a golfer long before I became a fan of the game. I’ve become so much of a golf fan that I’ve managed to learn a lot about Jack Nicklaus over the years. Jack holds the record for most major championships won with eighteen. He also finished in second place nineteen times in a major championship. Jack won 115 professional golf tournaments with 73 of those wins being PGA Tour events. Jack Nicklaus is arguably the greatest golfer of all time. I shared all of that to better explain how impressed I was by Jack’s interview. Jack has accomplished so much on and off the golf course, yet he was so humble. He has acquired incredible fame and fortune, yet didn’t speak of himself or his accomplishments. When asked about his greatest golf shot ever, he told of an amazing shot that Tom Watson once hit. That’s humility and that impressed me. Humility is a great characteristic and one that our Lord Jesus exemplified in His life and death. “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on a cross!”(Phil.2:8) You and I may never be humble champions like Jack Nicklaus, but we better be humble Christians. “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”(I Peter 5:5)