This is post #16 of a series entitled Peacemakers for the Cause of Christ – Facilitators of God’s Peace in a World Looking for Peace. We hope you’ll enjoy these 31 podcasts and blogs that focus on our great need in today’s society for peacemakers; men, women, and children who are willing to step away from all the contempt, division, and hatred, and step in toward the blessed call of being Christ-centered peacemakers for the greater glory of God. Here you’ll find very practical and biblically-sound advice on building bridges instead of walls, offering hope instead of despair. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
Click on the link below to listen to the podcast version of this blog!
Truth #5: Peacemakers Practice the Presence of God’s Peace.
Today’s Lectio Divina: But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified. Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. Galatians 5: 22-25 (MsgB)
You know, all my years of growing up, I never liked pears. Then, one day, after a few years of marriage, my wife, Sandy, asked me why.
“They taste awful, and they’re gritty and bitter, and…ugh!” I replied.
Then, taking a fresh, ripened pear she had just purchased at our local farmer’s market, she got a bowl, and began slicing up the pear. The juice began flowing everywhere and when she finished, she said, “Now, Marty, try this.”
Reluctantly, I grabbed a slice, put it in my mouth, and voilà, I’ve absolutely loved fresh, ripened pears ever since!
The secret, you ask?
The only pears I’d ever tasted growing up were canned pears, soaked in sugary preservatives.
Why do I tell this story?
Because, as I see it, there’s a real difference today between the fake fruit of the Spirit we Christians so very often try to pass off onto others compared to the real fruit found only in the presence of Jesus of Nazareth.
What do I mean by that?
In the NIV translation of today’s Lectio Divina, the fruit of the Spirit is listed this way:
Love, Joy, Peace, Forbearance, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control.
What a beautiful bowl of fresh fruit, picked daily from branches that are firmly attached to Jesus. Do you remember the Master’s words?
I am the True Vine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in Me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples. John 15: 1-8 (NIV)
You see, if we’re not careful, we can replace real abiding with Jesus with religion and religious activity, and in the process, the ministry we do comes out of our own strength and initiative. Thus, we end up serving folks a fruit salad made from canned fruit. It might look delicious, but sadly, it tastes more like wax when we take a bite.
So, when all this comes to the subject of peace, the prophet Jeremiah saw this unfortunate scenario happening:
From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. Jeremiah 6: 13-14 (NIV)
The prophet continues with his warnings:
This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ I appointed watchmen over you and said, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But you said, ‘We will not listen.’ Therefore hear, you nations; you who are witnesses, observe what will happen to them. Hear, you earth: I am bringing disaster on this people, the fruit of their schemes, because they have not listened to my words and have rejected my law.” Jeremiah 6: 16-19 (NIV)
You see, when it comes to real shalom or eirene (peace) of the Spirit, you and I must be aligned with God’s appointed watchman: Jesus of Nazareth! He’s the only One who can give us the true peace that passes all understanding. And any peace we try to produce outside of Him will be like serving up that tasteless canned pear of my childhood; hoping for good, but receiving so much less.
So, what’s in your fruit basket today?
A pear of peace ripened in the light of your own wisdom and strength?
Or a ripened, juicy pear of peace that has matured in the garden of the Lord?
My Prayer: Jesus, there really is no substitute for the fruit that comes from Your garden. Not only can we taste the difference but sadly, those we are trying to minister to taste the difference as well. Forgive me when I’ve tried to substitute the real peace that comes only from You with a fleshly-produced peace that might look good for a while, but spoils very quickly. Holy Spirit, produce Your fruit in me as I abide as a branch in the Vine. For Your Name’s sake. Amen.
A Few Questions to Ponder: Jeremiah speaks of both prophets and priests alike who are greedy for personal gain, practice deceit, and proclaim “peace, peace” but in truth, there is no peace. Where in my life might I be guilty of such falsehoods? Am I practicing God’s peace in my own life, making sure it’s the real deal, before going out and trying to give it away to others?
*This is the seventh in a variety of practical suggestions/resources we will make throughout this blog/podcast series. We call these exercises:
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4: 9 (NIV)
Tool #7: The Examen.
This week, as we discuss the great need to practice Jesus’ presence of peace deeply within our own lives, allow us to give you three practical spiritual formation tools that have greatly aided us in our journey with Jesus. These are ancient tools used by Christ-followers for centuries and we believe they can come in handy for you along the way as well.
For a complete overview of how to get started in the spiritual discipline of The Examen, click here.
So, how are you experiencing God’s presence as you are becoming a peacemaker for the cause of Christ?
Peacemakers for the Cause of Christ – Facilitators of God’s Peace in a World Looking for Peace.
We hope you’ll enjoy these 31 podcasts and blogs that focus on our great need in today’s society for peacemakers; men, women, and children who are willing to step away from all the contempt, division, and hatred, and step in toward the blessed call of being Christ-centered peacemakers for the greater glory of God. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
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