This is post #28 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.
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Truth #9: Peacemakers Embrace Our Role as Facilitators in God’s Circle of Peace.
Today’s Lectio Divina: Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody. Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good. Romans 12: 14-21 MsgB
So far this week, we’ve been discussing what I call my Ten Commandments For Facilitators in God’s Circle of Peace. Here’s what we’ve covered:
I. Know who you are, what you believe & where you are called.
II. Keep your circle of non-negotiables small.
III. Ask for God’s gift of holy indifference.
IV. Build bridges while respecting walls.
V. Focus on the power of one.
Today, let’s keep going with three more:
Commandment VII: Prefer relationship over rules.
Let’s face it. The world is full of rules and regulations. And, much like the walls that divide us from one another, most rules and regulations have been put there for a good reason. The rule that we all learned when we were little, for example: Don’t walk out onto a busy street; is a good rule because we all know that when some innocent kid steps out onto a busy street to retrieve a ball, the chances of being hit and killed by a speeding car increases exponentially. But, while this rule still applies for us as responsible adults, it’s not a rule that is meant to keep us from ever crossing a street!
So, it is with many rules and regulations in life.
As peacemakers for the cause of Christ, we need to be very aware of rules and regulations that have been put in place, but always prefer relationships over rules. In other words, people are more important than power, principles and positions. Once again, I refer to my friend, Rick Love, who worked diligently as a pro-active peacemaker between Christians and Muslims. Time and time again, Rick was warned by well-intentioned friends to be very careful when working with those “non-Christians.” The rules and regulations of religion would say that Rick was sacrificing God’s truth in order to be with Muslims. But Rick, being fully aware of the differences in theology, went right ahead building relationships with those who were different from himself. Why? Because, Rick believed that Jesus always preferred relationships over rule-keeping.
Commandment VIII: Go slow in order to go fast.
My pastoral mentor, John Wimber, used to have an expression when it came to church-planting.
“Marty, you need to go slow in order to go fast.”
At first, that expression didn’t make sense to me. As a young-n-upcoming church planter, I was ready to go out into the world and build the biggest-and-bestest church in my community. I was full of energy, itching to get-r-done, and ready to rock-n-roll with Jesus. It wasn’t until ten to twelve years into the project, when some of my quickly-built church programming began to crumble from faulty construction, when John’s expression came back to haunt me. In my case, I’d spent too little time building quality relationships that would endure under pressure while putting more time quickly throwing together programming pieces that I thought would best attract a bigger crowd.
You see, peacemaking for the cause of Christ is a slow, steady work. A long obedience in the same direction. As we said earlier, peacemaking works best when it operates on Jesus’ timetable and not yours, and when it is served up one person at a time instead of in big groups. I’d suggest you slow down, set your sights on building quality bridges instead of quantity, and then settle in, like Rick Love, slowly building a well-constructed bridge that can now support large numbers long after he has completed his work.
Commandment IX: Be content with small, quiet fire.
Most everybody I know loves a big fire. A big fire can be seen for miles. A big fire attracts others, creates a buzz, and, if you do it just right, it might even get your name in the newspaper.
So, here’s the truth.
Most of us dream of building that kind of fire. A big fire that will be talked about for generations.
I have a friend, who years ago, was a pastor of a small, little church in downstate Illinois. His church, like mine, was fairly successful, but nothing others were talking about. When we met with each other at our area church meetings, we’d dream of the day God would spark a big fire of revival in and through our little churches.
Well, lo and behold, one day that spark happened to my friend.
As it turned out, my pastor friend, in his despair of pastoring a slow moving, little-talked-about church in downstate Illinois, got so burned out he went to what he believed would be his last pastor’s conference. He was ready to throw in the towel. But apparently, God was not done yet, and on the last day of that conference, the Holy Spirit lit a big fire in my friend. So much so, that the fire in his belly spread not only to his little church but began spreading across the region. Several months later, my friend was asked to speak at yet another dry-and crusty church in Canada. Before it ended several years later, a massive revival was birthed, with thousands of churches being touched by the bonfire God had stirred through my now-revived friend’s ministry.
Sounds exciting, right?
But here’s the rub.
One day as the revival fires were burning hot-n-heavy, my friend had become so popular, the story of the revival was actually featured in Time Magazine. My friend was so excited when he heard about this, he went right down to the hotel lobby where he was staying, bought several copies of the magazine, and ran up to his room to read all about it.
Then, it happened.
As he was pouring over the article, salivating at the publicity the revival was causing, my friend suddenly heard a whisper.
“Dan (not his real name),” Jesus whispered, “Great article, huh?”
Dan was so busy looking for his name in the article, he failed, at first, to notice Jesus trying to get his attention.
“Dan, did you find your name yet?” Jesus inquired.
When my friend realized how utterly excited he was to find his name mentioned several times in Time Magazine, a bit of shame began to rise up inside him.
“Dan,” Jesus whispered, “Why don’t you read the article again, and this time, note how many times My name is mentioned?”
My friend did just that. And as you might guess, Jesus’ name was not mentioned once. Not one time over three full pages.
When that awareness finally hit my friend, he laid the magazine down and broke into a huge sob, telling Jesus how very sorry he was that he was so consumed with finding his own name in the article, yet never noticed that Jesus, the author of the revival, was never mentioned.
My Prayer: Jesus, Your Word says…
“Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.”
Sadly, Lord, if left to my own devices, I’m more interested in building a big fire so I will be noticed, than I am in sitting around a small quiet fire where You are the focus of all of our attention. Help me, Father God, to remember these core truths:
- Prefer relationship over rules.
- Go slow in order to go fast.
- Be content with small, quiet fire.
For Your Name’s sake. Amen.
A Few Questions to Ponder: So, let’s get real here. Am I willing to focus on quality relationships, preferring one on one get-togethers over large, impressive meetings? Am I willing to go slow with the work of peacemaking, allowing Jesus to determine the rate of growth and expansion? Finally, am I willing to work in the shadows, tending small, quiet fire rather than dreaming of the next big burn?
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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