Colossians 3:14-15: Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.
Note: This will ultimately be a companion piece to an article that will be released later this week called “Jesus Christ, the ONE true God.” The Bible calls Christians to speak the TRUTH in LOVE. The article below is a somewhat imperfect representation of the love and peace side of that call; the upcoming article will be more truth-focused. It is possible to be both full of love and full of truth. To scrimp on truth is compromise; to lack in love is harshness.
Several years ago, our Baptist church in Pinson, Alabama transitioned from a single lead pastor + leadership team model to more of a plural elder model of leadership. Unlike a lot of church situations where the leadership model changes – this particular shift was largely (but not completely) without controversy. The shift unfolded over a period of about a year, and we taught our way through the transition, learning together from the Word and adjusting as we went.
One of the most important things we did during that leadership transition time was to look carefully at the qualifications of elders/pastors in the Scripture – particularly as found in 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1, and 1 Peter 5. The thing that struck me most as we poured over these quite detailed (and challenging) descriptions of the character of Christian leaders, is the blanket prohibitions on being a jerk. Of course, the Bible doesn’t quite use that language, but it gives several very specific directives that Christian leaders MUST adhere to. They must NOT be hot-tempered. They must NOT be quarrelsome. They must NOT be arrogant, or any kind of bully. They MUST be gentle. They MUST be sensible. They MUST exhibit self-control. They MUST be clothed with humility. Indeed, in his second letter to Timothy, a young pastor/elder in training, Paul concludes some of his relationship advice by saying to him, “The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness.” (2nd Timothy 2:24-25) And I could go on, but you probably get the picture: Anybody who would be the servant of God must not (EVER!) quarrel, but must be patient, gentle, peaceful and sensible. Frankly, I don’t always see those characteristics in my self, or in other Christian leaders. (Note: Seeing the lack of those characteristics in others NEVER gives us an excuse to quarrel, or not be gentle, etc. )
Let’s wrap our mind around this for a moment. According to the Bible, Christians – particularly Christian leaders – are called to a certain set of high standards that absolutely forbid quarreling. Does that mean we must simply overlook error, false teaching, or that sort of thing? It does NOT – but it does mean something quite profound. Christians – leaders in particular – are called to be peacemakers, and peace-lovers. This requires wisdom. There is quite clearly a time for STRONG WORDS OF CHALLENGE. (See Galatians 5:12, or 2 Peter 2, for instance) But when we always use STRONG words, accusations of heresy, high emotions and name calling, then we are failing to be the salt and light that Jesus has called us to. This is not a post about watering down the truth, or compromising Biblical truth in any way; this is a post about how the Bible demands that we communicate truth!
During the current ongoing debate about the precise nature of the Trinity, I have noticed many Christian leaders exhibiting what might be an eagerness to debate and quarrel that could well go beyond Paul’s directives in the passages above. One pastor, noting that one of his “opponents,” was about to issue a clarifying statement, claimed that he was “loaded and ready” to respond to that opponent. I do not believe that we are allowed to, even in a rhetorical sense, shoot a fellow brother in Christ! When some of the debaters were called out for unnecessary aggression, their response was to trumpet the importance of having a precisely correct theology of the Trinity, essentially proclaiming that it was more important to be right than it was to be peaceful. It is indeed important to have a true and biblical view of the nature of God, but you can be “correct” in an argument, yet so divisive in the way that you “win” the argument, that you are doing a disservice to the very truth that you are trying to uphold!
The leadership passages quoted above, and those listed below, go far beyond merely addressing how we should conduct ourselves during theological disagreements. They also speak to how we should engage with our spouses (no quarreling!), How we should parent…how we should interact with each other…how we should interact with people outside of the church (see 1 Timothy 3:7) AND…how we should post on social media! In all situations, in every way, Christians are called to be peace makers, peace lovers, and to avoid quarreling. How then, I hear you asking, are we to stand and proclaim the unadulterated truth of the Gospel?? Here’s an easy to write (and maybe tough to live out…) answer to that question: We hold unswervingly to the faith that we profess while being people of peace who avoid quarreling! We speak the exclusive truth claims of Jesus and His good news while being people of kindness, reasonableness and respect. We teach and promote and publish the uncompromising truths of God’s Word by being people who are NOT hot-tempered, but kind and patient – even with those who oppose us.
I personally believe this rules out things like name calling. I have heard and read Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama and Donald Trump (among a host of other politicians) called dozens of different names by professing Christians, and I wince every time I hear or see it. I will not, and have never voted for any of those three politicians, but calling them names is quite childish, and not demonstrative of the way the Bible calls us to disagree. Consider your social media, and be wise.
Christians are all supposed to be characterized by a particular set of attitudes, habits, and obvious characteristics – the Bible calls these marks “the fruits of the Spirit.” These fruits are: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Think about that…if you are a Christian – the character traits that people should notice about you (in your home, at your job, when you are with friends, and even in your online presence) are that you are full of love. You are joyful. You are a person of peace. You are patient. You display kindness to all. This is what a Christian looks like! Is this what we look like? Is this how our spouse or children, or parents, or friends would characterize us? We should be overflowing with obvious love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, etc. Not as a work of our own effort, but as a work of the Holy Spirit in us. The fruits of the Spirit are natural results (supernatural results!) of the Holy Spirit living in a person.
I recently had the privilege of preaching a message on peace to our congregation. During the prep time for that message, I was struck by how important the concept of “peace” was to being a Christian. God Himself is a God of peace, and His message is a message of peace. Jesus gives Christians His peace, and enables them to give it to others. Christians are commanded to seek peace, and to pursue it with all of our power. Read on to consider and absorb the biblical call to peace:
Top FIVE Takeaways from a Biblical Study of Peace:
God is a God of Peace, and His Kingdom is a Kingdom of peace.
Isaiah 9:6 For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
Romans 8:6 6 For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace.
Romans 14:17 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit Romans 15: 33 The God of peace be with all of you. Amen.
Romans 16:20 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet
1 Corinthians 14: 32 And the prophets’ spirits are under the control of the prophets, 33 since God is not a God of disorder but of peace.
Philippians 4:9 9 Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely.
2 Thessalonians 3:16 16 May the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way.
2. Jesus has given us His peace, and we are able to give it to others!
Psalm 29: 11 The Lord gives His people strength; the Lord blesses His people with peace.
John 14: 27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.
Galatians 5: 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Matthew 10: 11 “When you enter any town or village, find out who is worthy, and stay there until you leave. 12 Greet a household when you enter it, 13 and if the household is worthy, let your peace be on it. But if it is unworthy, let your peace return to you. Luke 10: 6 If a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you.
The First thing that Jesus said to the disciples after His resurrection was a blessing and gift of peace!
John 20: 19 In the evening of that first day of the week,the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because of their fear of the Jews. Then Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them,“Peace to you!”
In fact, He said it twice: John 20: 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 After saying this, He breathed on them and said,“ Receive the Holy Spirit.
Further, 8 days after meeting with the disciples (with Thomas not there) the first thing Jesus said when He appeared to them again – was peace! John 20: 26 After eight days His disciples were indoors again, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace to you!”
The Message we carry – The Gospel of Jesus is itself, a Message of peace.
Acts 10: 36 He sent the message to the Israelites, proclaiming the good news of peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all.
Ephesians 2: 13 But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah. 14 For He is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility. In His flesh, 15 He made of no effect the law consisting of commands and expressed in regulations, so that He might create in Himself one new man from the two, resulting in peace.
Ephesians 2: 17 When the Messiah came, He proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.
Ephesians 6:15 and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace.
5. We are commanded to pursue peace and to be at peace. Those who make it their practice to promote peace are to be called Sons of God.
Psalm 34: 14 Turn away from evil and do what is good;
seek peace and pursue it. 15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and His ears are open to their cry for help.
Matthew 5:9 The peacemakers are blessed, for they will be called sons of God.
Romans 12: 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. 18 If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone.
Romans 14:19 19 So then, we must pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another. (We are commanded to pursue peace?)
2nd Corinthians 13: 11 11 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Become mature, be encouraged, be of the same mind, be at peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Ephesians 4 Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, 3 diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.
2nd Timothy 2:22 22 Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they breed quarrels. (Note: We almost always think that the disputes we involve ourselves in are not the kind of foolish and ignorant ones that we are supposed to reject. THIS IS IMPORTANT!! We are usually wrong about that…)
Hebrews 12: 14 14 Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness—without it no one will see the Lord. 15 Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many.
1 Peter 3:10 For the one who wants to love life and to see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit, 11 and he must turn away from evil and do what is good. He must seek peace and pursue it, 12 because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their request. But the face of the Lord is against those who do what is evil.
James 3: 13 Who is wise and has understanding among you? He should show his works by good conduct with wisdom’s gentleness. 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t brag and deny the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where envy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every kind of evil. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant (Easy to be entreated – Easy to negotiate with, easy to come to agreement with,…chill…easy going…easy to be persuaded), full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism (probably without JUDGING OR DOUBTING) and hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.
Finally: Hebrews 13: 20 Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus—the great Shepherd of the sheep—with the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 equip you with all that is good to do His will, working in us what is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ. Glory belongs to Him forever and ever. Amen.