Today we have many who cry out that those who seek peace are those who are willing to compromise truth. I find this conclusion to be more than troubling, especially when Yeshua said, “blessed are the peacemakers.”
The word shalom is the Hebrew word for peace, and it appears in the Tanach (OT) 236 times. The Greek counterpart to shalom, eirene, appears another 92 times in the Apostolic Writings (NT). Combined we see the word peace or a related concept 328 times in the bible. With that great city known as Jerusalem carrying the meaning of “teaching of peace,” with Isaiah using the name “Prince of Peace,” and Paul using the descriptive phrase “Lord of Peace,” do you think the idea of peace is important to God?
What exactly is peace? Some dictionaries define it as being free from dispute, or lacking stress, disturbance, anxiety, or agitation. It is, seemingly, a state of quiet or tranquility. Sometimes the best picture of the concept a word carries is found when we find a word or words that appear to portray the opposite conditions. In this case, war would be a word that described a lack of peace. Others would include fighting, arguing, corrupting, manipulating, using force, etc. It is an interesting side note that I very well could add the word heresy here, because the underlying Greek word from which we get heresy (hairesis – G139) means, “to storm a city; to take by force.” In biblical context, a heretic isn’t somebody who simply disagreed with any mainstream statement of beliefs, which is how heresy is defined today, in English. Historically, a heretic was one who tried to force others to accept his own understanding. In an odd twist to our modern definition of heresy, it wasn’t the heretics who were being beheaded or burned at the stake; the heretics were the ones who gave the orders for the axes to be swung or the matches to be lit. Heresy is a lack of peace and it should be noted, peace is one of the character attributes of Holy Spirit.
There is another word we have in our language that paints an opposing picture to the concept of peace, that word is chaos. The idea of disorder and confusion, which both stand in direct contrast to being free of stress and anxiety, is how chaos is defined. Disorder and confusion, however, are the hallmarks of the modern condition of the faith. With 40,000 denominations and sects within Christianity (not to mention however many home groups there are), and great polarization and division within the Hebrew Roots or Ephraimite movement, using the word “chaos” or the phrase “lack of peace” are sadly two of the best ways to describe the condition of our House. Where we should stand as one, joined by the core beliefs that we all share, we instead create division and animosity among a body over minutia and minor doctrinal points that, when it comes to the welfare of our assembly, are perhaps not as important to God as they are to us. When we factor in that our Scriptural understanding comes as a gift from the Holy Spirit, how do we not profane the gift, and gift giver, when we use our understanding as the litmus test by which we judge others? That action disrupts peace because that action was not God’s intention.
The Psalmist said we should “seek peace,” which I think is captured in a NT verse that includes, “being of one mind and one accord.” Perhaps we misunderstand what “one mind and one accord” means? Was it that we were supposed to look, think, believe, and act alike in every way, or be one in function, purpose, or intent? If we are to seek peace, and keep ourselves free from dispute, disturbance, anxiety (etc.), then clearly being of one mind and one accord is us laying aside any differences so that we can function together as God intended for the good of the body at large. Agreeing on every detail of doctrine and understanding is simply not a reality while we continue to exist in a fallen state.
Today we have many who cry out that those who seek peace are those who are willing to compromise truth. I find this conclusion to be more than troubling, especially when Yeshua said, “blessed are the peacemakers.” I don’t believe that he was overly concerned with national and international politics, I don’t believe he was speaking about the world system, his entire message was wrapped around the call to repent, to begin to turn the hearts of the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel back toward the God of Israel, and toward the Kingdom to come. Therefore, “blessed are the peacemakers” was a statement he made that was dealing with those who strive to bring peace to the faith, peace to the House to which we belong…. peace among the brethren.
Today we stand at a time in history where God is doing an incredible work of changing paradigms and drawing people closer to Him and His will and instruction for our lives. Yet, there are facets of our body that seem to look for reasons to divide or stand alone as a rogue islands with no sense of community at all. The idea that we are part of the same nation is simply beyond the grasp of some at this time and this causes disunity, disruption, agitation, stress… a lack of peace. I submit that we keep these people in prayer and leave open doors to communication between us and them praying that God would compel them to repent and establish meaningful discourse. Beyond that, and until then, I submit that it is time for those who seek and love peace and who are willing to decrease “self” for the good of the body as a whole, to rally around each other so that together we become a voice of reason and balance in a world that almost seems to derive it’s energy from chaos. We cannot change hearts, only God can do that. What we can do is join together in love and peace while standing as beacons of hope; pointing to a God who loves peace among brethren. We should be reflecting His character attributes to the world around us while letting Him work on the hearts of those who don’t see the blessing of living together in His shalom. May our lives be filled with His shalom.
Proverbs 6: 16 These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: (17) A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, (18) A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, (19) A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.
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