Peacemaking in a hostile world

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 (Eph. 2:14-16).

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Divisiveness is at an all time high in our country, especially in our politics and from leaders who would denounce those holding opposing views as “other” or worse, “enemy.”

But don’t be fooled. They’re not only colleagues, in many cases they’re good friends. My parents both worked for Congress and would tell stories about our elected officials. They’d attack one another in the press but in the elevators and hallways they could be overheard making weekend plans together.

Our leaders often aren’t the best example of how to get along. However, I recently learned of one group working hard to keep the peace.

The U.S. Supreme Court is a group of nine men and women deciding on some of the most important legal cases in our nation. Though each Justice is an individual, they work in unison as one body.

Despite political  leanings and personal dispositions, they have a tradition that can serve as an example to us. One is called “The Judicial Handshake” and it dates back to the nineteenth century. Each day before they go on the bench and before any discussion in private conferences, they gather and shake hands with each of their counterparts.

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According to the Supreme Court website, there’s a reason for this: “Chief Justice Fuller instituted this practice as a reminder that differences of opinion on the Court did not preclude overall harmony of purpose.”

As believers, we’re also called to unity — to be one as the body of Christ. The “broken down” reference in the verse above is mild compared to what it actually means in Greek, which is total destruction. The hostility that formerly divided people and made them enemies suffered total devastation when Jesus chose to die on the cross for all mankind.

His purpose of making peace through reconciliation offers us a clear pattern to follow. By his example, we as his disciples are called to do the same in the here and now. We have a ministry of reconciliation.

As Ephesians 2:22 tells us: In him you are also being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. 

Think about that. While much of the world is divided and dominated by hostility and enmity, a bright light still shines — us. Citizens and family members have rights and responsibilities to their leaders and relatives. Putting hostility and individuality aside for the sake of others is critical for a healthy country and household.

 

 

Jesus accomplished this for us on the cross and he calls us to pick up our cross (our responsibility) and follow his example. Just think about the difference that would make in our world!

How can you make peace with others?

Peace, Prosperity & Politics

By Erika Rizkallah

I grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. My parents worked in the Capitol – one in the Senate and one in the House of Representatives – though neither were politicians. They worked grueling hours for Congress and I grew resentful about the way our government treated its workers.

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Politics was the news in our town. Other than that, we just got doom and gloom reports of crime and death in what was then “the murder capital of the world.” What I remember most was a having a sense of overwhelming fear. Almost every thought and decision was filtered through a lens of anxiety.

I felt like a captive.

Many of my friends thrived on political discourse but I hated it. I didn’t want to hear or talk about it so I stopped watching the news.

I learned the “behind the scenes” truth from my parents. Though our politicians fought and filibustered on television, many were backroom buddies. The powerful and power-hungry dined and drank together in posh clubs, away from the C-Span cameras.

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When I turned 40, God called me to a new place – hours away from the ladder climbing and clamor. It’s my personal “Promised Land” and the home I’d always longed for.

Ironically, I’m a political junkie now. I guess it’s woven into the fabric of my life. However, I’m no longer anxious or fearful about the state of our country or world. I believe making it a better place is up to us.

It’s the duty of those who believe in Christ, to be salt and light. To help create reform. We’re able to create positive changes because we have true power.

We have the Holy Spirit.

I’m halfway through the book of Jeremiah and it reminded me being a captive. Jeremiah warned people for years that if they didn’t reform their ways, they’d be exiled to Babylon. But they didn’t listen and were sent to live in a land with a new ruler, customs and language.

 

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In the midst of their servitude to King Nebuchadnezzar, God gave them instructions for living through a letter sent by the prophet Jeremiah. He said, “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper . . .”  Jeremiah 29:5-7

I love the phrase . . . Build houses and settle down.

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It conveys a sense of peace in frightening circumstances. Though their rebellion resulted in captivity, God still comforted them. He always has a purpose and plan for his people.

The letter also said, “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. “ v. 29:11

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We often hear the prosperity part without the following verses:

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” v. 29:12-14

I believe his declarations. His gracious promise of peace and prosperity. He’s for us no matter the political posturing or predicaments.

When we seek him with all our heart and seek the peace and prosperity of our cities, he will listen and we will be found by him.

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Oh what a reason for rejoicing and wonder!

How about you: Are you seeking?