Tag Archive for peace

Loving Your Neighbor As Yourself

London RiotsThe Gospel Is The Best Riot Control

I have watched with some interest the riots that have been going on in England. It saddens me to see people hurt and policemen put in harms way. There is no excuse for violence of any kind, but I do understand where it comes from. It stems from a lack of love for ones neighbor that can only be generated by the application of the gospel. Where the gospel has dominion there is peace and where it is not there are riots like we see going on in London.

Im am not speaking of some kind of theocracy or heaven on earth when I refer to the gospel in this manner. I believe Jesus meant it when He said that, “my kingdom is not of this world.” What I am saying is that when the gospel takes root in hearts, it brings people together it does not divide and cause violence. This seems counter-intuitive to modern thinking because people have been conditioned to think that religion or “fundamentalism” causes bigotry, hatred, and violence. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. If modern western sensibilities founded on government education and psychological conditioning were the answer then why are Londoners rioting?

There will be many professors, doctors, and social scientists that will analyze what has happened in London for years to come and I’d be willing to bet that none of them will cite a lack of the gospel as the contributing factor. Be that as it may the scriptures are crystal clear:

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

– Ephesians 2:13-16

The gospel is the best riot control I can think of.

Don’t Be The Centerpiece Of Your Life

boy in mirrorJoy Is Not Found In The Mirror

Most of my days are spent thinking about and relying on myself. It’s really one of the most natural and most depressing things I could ever do. True joy comes from have a healthy level of self-forgetfulness. This is something that it has taken me many years to realize and I still struggle at putting it into practice.

One of the first times that this wisdom hit home to me was when I began reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. In this timeless missive Lewis writes:

Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good… above all, that we are better than someone else… I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil. The real test of being in the presence of God is, that you either forget about yourself all together or see yourself as a small, or dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself altogether.

The subtlety of allowing yourself to become the centerpiece of your life is frightening. In my life this sin manifests itself in a number of ways such as:

1. I begin to get impatient with others when I drive

2. I begin to care more about entertaining myself than I do spending time reading and in quiet meditation and prayer.

3. I care way too much about what others think of me.

4. I become self-contained and don’t enjoy the company of others as much.

5. I get moody and tend to be less joyful.

So when I see the warning signs, I have to put on the brakes and ask the Lord to help me become small so that I can delight in how big He is. This brings joy and peace very quickly. It also restores balance to relationships. It keeps you from expecting from others or yourself what you can only get from God.

I don’t always appreciate it, but the following verse is grace unimaginable

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
– 2 Corinthians 4:7

I am free to be a clay jar because of the beautiful love of Christ that He has put in me. I can be weak and inferior because He is strong and superior and He loves me.

Lord I believe this, help my unbelief.

Who is the centerpiece of your life?

The Sin Of Unbelief

Unbelief robs us of our peace and robs God of His glory. It is a canker that eats at the very fabric of our souls. It is subtle and sadistic and is more prevalent than we realize. Consider the following warning concerning unbelief:

“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.”

– Hebrews 3:12-14

This passage warns us that the only remedy against unbelief and the deceitfulness of sin is faith in Jesus Christ. If you place your faith in Christ to be your substitute and to exchange your sinfulness for His righteousness, then you will persevere and not be overcome by the deceitfulness of sin. Genuine faith is lasting faith and can never be lost (John 10:27-29; Ephesians 1:4).

Unbelief, however, is not just a danger for those without faith. It is not just a tool that Satan uses to keep people from heaven, but it is also his weapon to keep Christians from enjoying the fellowship of their Savior. The gospel of Matthew gives us a perfect example:

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

Matthew 8:23-27

The disciples who had spent time with Jesus, who had witnessed His power, and who had seen his miracles were afraid of a storm. I have no doubt that had you or I been there, we would have been just as afraid as the disciples, but therein lies our comfort and our caution. If the very 12 men whom Jesus chose to carry out His work struggled with unbelief, then we should not be surprised to find that we also share in this struggle. It is common to all Christians regardless of their station.

If unbelief is the cancer then faith must be its cure. Every time we are attacked by satan with unbelief, we must counter with faith. This is a surefire way to glorify God and see His provision realized in our circumstances. The great Puritan pastor Thomas Watson states the case thus:

“He that believes flies to God’s mercy and truth, as to an altar of refuge; he engarrisons himself in the promises, and trusts all he has with God (Psalm 31:3-4)…This is a great way of bringing glory to God, and God honors faith because faith honors Him.”

You may be going through some difficult circumstances that have shaken your faith but rest assured that little faith is great faith when it rests in a great God. Jesus is tender and merciful to act on the slightest evidence of faith. We know this from what is recorded in Mark 9:22-27.

In this passage, a man brings his son to Jesus to be healed. Look at what he says to Jesus:

“…But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”

Anyone else might have taken offense at this mans statement and sent him on his way, but not Jesus look at His response:

And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”

Jesus confronted this mans unbelief because He knew that this sin was robbing the man of his peace and God of His glory. After Jesus admonition the man responds by saying:

“I believe; help my unbelief!”

This is a very weak but very real admission about his faith in Jesus but it is enough to see the mercy and grace of Jesus realized. Immediately following this confession, Jesus goes and heals the man’s son. The little faith of this man was enough to satisfy Jesus and result in a great miracle. This should give us much hope.

The sin of unbelief is real and potent but it can be conquered by a little faith. If you have never trusted Christ as your savior exercise a little faith and call on Him today. If you are a Christian whose joy is being stolen by doubt, worry, or stress weak as it may, be exercise your faith and call on Him today to be your protector and deliverer. Don’t be a victim of the sin of unbelief.

Redefining Peace

Nobelmedal“Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?”

– Patrick Henry

I was somewhat surprised to hear the news this morning that the Nobel organization is awarding the Peace prize to President Obama. I am happy for the President and his family but quite honestly I am embarrassed for them also. The surest and most honorable thing that the President could do would be to thank the organization but to politely refuse the offer. This would display his character and restore dignity to the Nobel prize. I know that these comments may seem harsh but let me illustrate why I made them.

Earlier this year, President Obama had the opportunity to strike a strong blow for freedom and he took a pass. When the thug dictator of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was suspiciously re-elected as President and the people of that nation took to the streets, what was our presidents reaction? Did he encourage and embolden the people of Iran in their fight for freedom from a brutal, totalitarian regime? No he said,

“It is not productive, given the history of US and Iranian relations to be seen as meddling in Iranian elections…
But when I see violence directed at peaceful protesters, when I see peaceful dissent being suppressed, it is of concern to me and it is of concern to the American people.”

– from a Telegraph article entitled, Iran election: Barack Obama refuses to ‘meddle’ over protests

There is a night and day difference between being concerned and standing for peace. President Obama chose to show caution in the face of a situation that called for moral resolve. How is this the action of a man who is to be awarded a world renowned award for peace? The only way to give such an award to such an individual is to redefine peace.

So the Nobel commission has chosen to award its medal to President Obama and in so doing redefine peace. From this point forward anyone who shows concern over brutality is a peacemaker. Anyone who symbolically lays a wreath at a memorial is a peacemaker. Anyone who apologizes for the history of moral action of his nation in the face of the apathy of the world is a peacemaker.

If President Obama were a man of character he would not allow the Nobel commission to redefine peace. He would politely tell the commission to send his medal to the young families who took to the streets in Iran or better yet to the young men and women who have given their lives in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan. The import of this award is indeed troubling and should cause all true lovers of peace to pause today.