(There is an audio version of this post available at the bottom of the written article.)
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”Matt 5:9, John 14:27
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”
The Call To Follow Jesus Is…
The call to follow Jesus is unlike any other call. The call to follow Jesus is about denial. “Deny yourself, take up your cross (which is your love for others) and follow Jesus.”
The call to follow Christ is about denying ourselves. Many have tried to read other things into the gospel, but those things simply aren’t there. Coming to Jesus isn’t about what I get, it’s about giving what’s been given to me.
What has been given to me? Peace. Specifically peace with God. “Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom 5:1) Because of Jesus, as a believer, I am no longer at war with God. I’m not opposed to God, I’m on God’s side. And God’s side is peace, shalom, wholeness, completeness, lacking nothing. Sure you can try to twist that into selfish gains, but that’s not what it is.
And as one pastor said, when the gospel came to you, it was on its way to someone else through you. The Gospel never goes to a person for the personal benefit of that person alone. The gospel is always on it’s way to someone else through the recipient.
So the call to follow Christ is never and can’t ever be about our own personal rights. The call to follow Christ is not about what I deserve, what I’m entitled do or what I have coming to me. The call to follow Christ is about loving one another like Christ has loved me in that he laid down his life in my place.
So then, why are so many Christians today…
…obsessed with their rights? Of course we all know the answer to this. It’s because we’ve been deeply americanized in our thinking. We live in a “my way all day every day” world. And when that way of thinking is so pervasive it’s like the air we breath, of course it’s hard for us to think differently.
Here’s the thing. That’s the call. We’re supposed to be different. We’re supposed to be so radically different from the world that people outside the faith look at the way we live our lives and glorify God. (Jesus, Sermon on the Mount) I’m concerned that for too many believers, our rights as Americans have superseded our call as Christians.
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath…”Romans 12:17-19a. (NIV)
As followers of Jesus, when our “rights” are violated, we are to model Jesus’ response. How did Jesus respond? He was silent, like a sheep being led out to be slaughtered. He prayed for his enemies on the cross, interceding for them. He stayed on mission despite being wrongfully executed.
God will deal with all injustice. There is no need for us to take justice into our own hands. There are systems to uphold Justice that God has put in place. But, it is not our responsibility to fight for our own personal rights.
The Gospel of Peace
“and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”Eph 6:15 (NIV)
Why is it that it is our feet that are fitted with the gospel of peace? Some say it’s so that we will advance the gospel. I can see that. Others say it’s a reference to walking the walk. Maybe. I think the most compelling argument is that, as Christians, we are supposed to take our stand on one thing alone – the gospel of peace.
We have been given the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Cor 5:16-21) Our primary purpose is to bring reconciliation between people and God. The war we are supposed to end first is the war mankind has fought against God for thousands of years.
And, yes, we are supposed to bring peace to the world. There is a day coming when God will remove his peace from the earth (Rev. 6). Until that day, our mission is peace. Peace with God and peace between men.
Now Is The Time
Now, more than ever, the world needs Christians to live Christ first instead of party first. I get it, you’re concerned. I am too. But division is the fruit of the deception of the enemy. Division is sown in selfishness and pride. Division is the product of living as though I am entitled to a certain way of life. How? When my “rights” born out of selfishness become the most important thing, out of necessity, I must infringe the “rights” of others to secure my “rights.” That’s why the call is to lay your life down and take up the cross of love.
Now, here’s the part where you get mad at me…
Peace isn’t limited to people we agree with. We aren’t just called to make peace with our friends. Jesus said, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” (Matt 5:43-48 NIV)
Sadly, we can’t even live at peace with the people we agree with anymore, let alone the people who are adamantly opposed to our point of view. Being at peace with someone doesn’t mean you agree with them. It simply means your bond with them overarches disagreements. The bond of love. Unconditional love. In other words, love that does not require anything of the other person. Political or cultural agreement is not required for peace.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.Colossians 3:13-15 (NIV)
So then Christians, If you are voting for Joe Biden, you have a responsibility to intentionally create peace with people voting for Donald Trump. If you are voting for Donald Trump, you have a biblical responsibility to create peace with anyone voting for Joe Biden. It doesn’t matter who “your” candidate is, even if you’re writing in Jesus, you have an obligation in Christ to seek peace with everyone.
After the election…
After the election and before it, the world is going to need Christians acting as peacemakers. We aren’t in control of the response of others to our attempts to make peace, but, as far as it depends on us, we are called to live at peace with everyone. Everyone. Everyone.
The more believers who actively seek to make peace, the better chance our nation has as responding to the election in a peaceful manner. The more believers who lay down their rights for the cause of Christ, the fewer voices there will be shouting for what we think we are due.
So many people are expecting outrage after the election, no matter the outcome. But, what if we mobilized believers across this nation to be ready to take their stand on peace?
If you agree, will you share this article? (If you’ve shared a lot of divisive posts lately, maybe this one would be better to share than those?)