Tuesday - February 8th
Scripture to Read Today: Ephesians 2:11-22
For He Himself is our peace...
George Washington warned his fellow Americans about the perils of political parties in his Farewell Address. "The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism." Moreover, he claimed that rigid partisanship would lead to inter-political conflict, divide the nation, and give rise to cases of political abuse and possibly even tyranny.
As humans, in our fallenness, we tend to disagree and disagree poorly. What begins as a slight difference of perspective can quickly become a deep, heated division between former friends. Families, churches, organizations, and friendships become casualties of the tension.
The political parties in our nation have their place. But unfortunately, we have allowed political perspectives to dominate our everyday, personal relationships. Our friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors must see things the way we see them or else. At first, the consequences seem minimal. But, unchecked polarization can lead to one perspective "canceling" someone else and their perspective. Washington saw the potential for the great divide we now experience.
The differences are not the problem. The bitterness and animosity that emerge from extreme polarization are the actual problems. We will have our differences. As people who hold tightly to God's perspective found in His Word, we will have strong convictions that may bother others. It is the spirit in which we hold those convictions and express them to others that matters. Are we expressing grace and understanding toward others, or do we immediately shift to criticism and bitterness?
What is the starting point for us to be peacemakers over troublemakers in our world today? It is Christ Himself. The Apostle Paul told the Ephesian Church that Christ Himself is our peace (Ephesians 1:14). He became the peace for the Jews and Gentiles in the first-century church. The deep divide between these people groups seemed impossible to resolve. God knew the only answer was His Son.
The same is true today. Jesus is the key to our peace with God (Romans 5:1) personally. Likewise, he is the key to our peace with others relationally. Jesus is the one who said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God" (Matthew 5:9).
When you find yourself disagreeing with someone else, remember Christ (who became your peace with God) wants you to seek understanding with others and show them grace. We can disagree and still experience peace. That does not happen with our best efforts to bridge the gap. It only happens when we embrace Christ as our peace!
Seek to understand the perspective of others. Even if you disagree, seek to show them kindness, grace, and understanding. AND allow them to see Christ in you!
Since we have peace with God through Jesus, we can express peace toward others because of Him too!