Saturday, May 19, 2007

Peace and Unrest

There's been a growing trend at my church in the last few weeks. We have begun to ask God for more of his peace. It is something that I believe to be fundamentally important in terms of the local area's spiritual growth. The reason I feel so strongly about that, is because I really do believe a "spirit of unrest" (for want of a better expression), exists and currently thrives in my hometown.

It is most noticeable for me, when I have been absent for some time... such as in my case - last weekend. Things seem to make people (including myself) more prickly - and they can be silly things really. Recently I have looked at the people around me, and it occurs to me that many appear to be in a state of unrest. The reasons are many and varied. For some it is worry, others it is anger, for some it is grief and still others, it is depression. I've recently spoken to a friend about the history of Alcester - principally about the supposed curse that was put upon the town in the Middle Ages (sometimes ascribed to St. Chad and sometimes ascribed to St. Egwin). Many historians don't take it seriously because they say that "saints don't curse towns". However, if you read the account it says that Chad/Egwin couldn't preach because the people of the town were to rowdy and jeered at him... so he left "shaking the dust of his feet" - this, believe it or not is a biblical concept:

"When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: "Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them." So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere."

Luke 9:1-9

and:

"When you enter a house, first say, 'Peace to this house.' If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. "When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, 'The kingdom of God is near you.' But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 'Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.' I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

Luke 10:5-12

So I'm not as dismissive of the historicity of Alcester's curse, as others are. However, I don't want to focus on that. Instead I want to focus on the importance of God's peace. In the the passage above, we find that Jesus commanded his followers to invite peace into the house. In fact it seems to have been an important ministry tool.

When I think of the work the church is supposed to in the community, I realised what an important role the spiritual fruit of peace plays:

How can people in active rebellion to God hear his voice, unless they learn through peace to be still and know that he is God?

How can those who mourn find comfort if they cannot first find peace and come to terms with their loss?

How can the broken-hearted and depressed know that there is hope - that night will follow day, if they first do not learn to be at peace in the situations that choke them.

How can those plagued by sickness, death, loneliness, worry, pain, sorrow, hardship and the like, find hope in Jesus... if they do not learn at first to trust that God is sovereign over all these things?

Most important of all, why should they believe that they can even receive this peace... if we do not demonstrate it ourselves? If we do not, they will just believe us to be con men.

Jesus said:

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God."
Matthew 5:9

We as Christians need to make peace available to the people we meet... and we will only be able to do that, if we allow ourselves to abundantly receive it from the Spirit's gracious infinite supply. If we are to be peacemakers... ten we need to be men, women and children of peace.

If I'm honest, in the last couple of weeks I've felt pretty disrupted and I have faltered. I've had that horrid feeling in my stomach again... that I'm born to struggle and that even if I need something I won't get it... because God wants me to just scrape in. I seem to have this problem with thinking I'm an exception to the rule. I need to wake up and stop falling into that pitfall. God wants me to live as abundantly as the rest of his people. I need to stop bringing myself down... because if I don't... I won't be able to lift others up. Too often I have become self destructive - I start to look at the past... sometimes even the present and assume I don't have a future. This causes me to become dejected. However I have no real reason to do this because this isn't what God says to me.

A word that God put on my heart on my birthday came back to me in timely fashion on Thursday night... and it has remained with me:

"There is a future for the man of peace."

You can find it in some translations of the Bible in Psalm 37:37.

Of course in order to become a person of peace, one must cease being a person of conflict. So I leave you with a parting gesture... for myself as much as all of you.

May the peace of God that passes all understanding, rest upon you and remain with you now and always...

Amen.

1 comment:

  1. The verse that comes straight to my mind after reading your blog is "Be still and know that I am God." Pslam 46:10a and another is John 14:27; Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

    It is so essential for a Christian to live in this. The world is so full of troubles, without that peace Jesus speaks about, I would be lost.

    In His grace
    Gerry

    ReplyDelete

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