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Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Peacemaker

I have another book to add to my top 10 most highly recommended books. It’s called “The Peacemaker” by Ken Sande. I cannot describe how much God is ministering to me in it right now. The book is for anyone who is in any kind of a relationship (in case you missed the implications of that sentence, I mean that this book is for everyone.) The book contains a wealth of Scripture references relating to peacemaking. I am learning to see the glory of God in conflict as I see His character (Slow to Anger, Abounding in Love, Merciful, Just, True, Righteous, Mighty, Peace-loving, Compassionate, Sacrificial, etc.) I am learning to see the gospel of peace—that the Father sent His Precious Son Jesus to resolve the conflict that rose between us and the Father through our sin against His Holiness. I am learning to see how we image God and His gospel in reconciliation, peace, unity, forgiveness, mercy, and costly love. I am learning that these things are not optional for a Christian. I am learning what my weaknesses are in conflict and what my tendencies toward sin are in conflicts in which I have sinned against others and/or they have sinned against me. Here are just a few great quotes from the book:

“Internal peace comes only from being reconciled to God through His Son, receiving His righteousness and the power to resist sin, and then obeying what God commands. “And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us” 1 John 3:23). By God’s design, the three dimensions of peace are inseparably joined. As one author (Tim Hansel) expressed it, “Peace with God, peace with each other and peace with ourselves come in the same package.” Therefore, if you want to experience internal peace, you must be reconciled to God by trusting in His Son and seek harmonious relationships with those around you.” P. 47

“When peace and unity characterize your relationships with other people, you show that you are God’s child and He is present and working in your life (Matt 5:9).” P. 47

"John 17:1-19 “When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. 6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

Jesus prayed these words during the final hours of His life. As death drew near, the Lord focused on a single concept He know to be of paramount importance for all those who would believe in Him. He did not pray that His followers would always be happy, that they would never suffer, or that their rights would always be defended. Jesus prayed that His followers would get along with one another. This was so important to Him that He tied His reputation and the credibility of His message to how well His followers would display unity and oneness. Read His prayer once more and think about how important unity is to Him. Is it equally important to you?

Similar words are recorded in John 13:34-35, where Jesus tells His disciples that their public witness could be closely related to the way they treated one another:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” The love Jesus commands us to show to one another has little to do with warm feelings; in fact, He commands us to show love even when it is the last thing int eh worlds we feel like doing (Luke 6:27-28). The love that Jesus wants us to show for one another leaves no room for unresolved conflict:

1 Cor 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. "
P. 47-8

"Jesus gave this command, ‘So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift’ (Matt 5:23-24)

Peace and unity are so important that Jesus commands us to seek reconciliation with a brother even ahead of worship! He teaches that we cannot love and worship God properly if we are at odds with another person and have not done everything in our power to be reconciled (1 Jn 4:19-21). He also reminds us that our Christian witness depends greatly on our commitment to seek peace and reconciliation with others.” P. 49

“unity does not mean uniformity” p. 53

In addition to laying out a Biblical framework for why peacemaking is central to being a Christian, Sande offers practical tips for navigating conflict and includes several lists of heart-piercing questions designed to get at our motives, desires, demands, and idols in conflicts. Whether you are too quick to speak or too timid, whether you are too sensitive or too insensitive, whether you are too obsessed with people or tend to throw them away, this book will be convicting. Sande examines difficult Biblical concepts such as speaking truth and overlooking minor offenses, while drawing us to the point of each—loving God and loving others with Biblical, sacrificial, scandalous gospel love.

If you do start reading this book (or have read it already), I would love to hear your thoughts on what God is revealing to you in it.

1 comment:

Heather said...

Thanks for sharing. You always inspire me. I wish that I had more time to read books like this, but for now I will read vicariously through you! =)