Hello and welcome to episode 76 of The Berean Manifesto brought to you by The Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill and over the next 10 minutes or so we’re going to take a look at living at peace with everyone.
Being at peace is very important, not just because peace has all kinds of health benefits, but the New Testament tells us to pursue it. In Hebrews 12:14 it says, “Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness – without it no one will see the Lord.” Romans 12:18 tells us, “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” And 2 Corinthians 13:11 says, “Become mature, be encouraged, be of the same mind, be at peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.”
In episode 71 we talked about wisdom, or more specifically the biblical definition of wisdom. One of the attributes that we identified as a key ingredient in having wisdom was being someone who was peace-loving. It’s the word:
G1516 εἰρηνικός eirēnikos i-ray-nee-kos' From G1515; pacific; by implication salutary: - peaceable.
It’s a pacifist or at least someone who is slow to anger; specifically, because they see challenges as opportunities to better themselves. In episode 74, we talked about not repaying evil with evil; basically the essence of this idea of peace-loving, right? In Matthew 5:38-39 Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” In episode 74 we also talked about how King David forbade any evil to come to his son during his rebellion, he even refused to authorize the beheading of a man that was insulting him on the road and throwing rocks at him and the royal party. It’s one of those teachings that needs to be taught, it needs to be heard, and great to internalize that message.
However, how do you walk that out? How do you get to the point that King David was at there? In the late 4th century Vegetius wrote, “Si vis pacem, para bellum.” In English that would be, “If you want peace, prepare for war.” King David didn’t start out his kingly reign turning the other cheek. He started by killing a giant and cutting off his head. He then continued to pursue the Philistines who were threatening the people of Israel.
The dictionary defines peace as a mutual state of harmony. The problem is that the world doesn't work that way. It doesn't matter what you do; what giants you kill, what heads you cut off, what armies you pursue. It doesn't matter how long you do it, nothing can bring you to a state of mutual harmony with the universe and everything in it. You will still sunburn, your loved ones will still get sick, and the neighbor's dog will still spread trash all over your yard.
Peace is an internal state separate from the reality around you. Peace is like salt, Mark 9:50 says, “Salt is good, but if the salt should lose its flavor, how can you season it? Have salt among yourselves, be at peace with one another.” Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.” Let’s read that again replacing the word salt with the word peace, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with peace, so that you may know how you should answer each person.” If we could really grasp the essence of peace in our lives, in our speech, and between ourselves, the world would be a drastically different place. So what, in essence, is peace? Peace can really be summed up in two words, prosperity and quietness.
We’ve covered prosperity in some detail in the past. You can see episode 62 for more, but basically, prosperity is seeing the fruits of the Spirit infused into every area of your life. That other half though, quiet, is defined as making no noise or sound especially no disturbing sound. I just want to reiterate that last part of the definition, "No disturbing sound."
There were some biosphere experiments in the 90's in Arizona. These experiments were meant to be completely sealed off from the outside world, providing their own food and using only resources provided at the beginning including oxygen. There were some successes, but there were also what I would consider some major failures. In the first mission, an unplanned local ant population was accidentally sealed into the biosphere and ran rampant killing off a number of pollinating insects and several bird species. Also, new oxygen had to be pumped into the biosphere due to an unexpected decline in breathable air levels. The second mission, strife in the management team led to a separation and removal of the onsite management from the project. In response to this kerfuffle, the biosphere was the victim of outside vandalism; some doors were open from the outside, breaking the seal, and about 10% of the air was swapped for outside unfiltered air. I want you to think about your life and the lives of those around you as small sealed biospheres. You are responsible for the culture in your biosphere just as those scientists were responsible for the environment in theirs. Just as those unwanted ants killed off beneficial species and wrecked well-laid plans, hurts and pains left unaddressed and toxic people left un-evicted can do the same in your life. Just like breathable air levels declined for the scientists, your life will be directly affected by the influences you allow; whether from crass entertainment, unhealthy foods, bad or abusive relationships, or whatever/whomever your vices are. Just like in the biosphere, strife unchallenged can lead to divorce or separation from loved ones paving the way for outside forces to come in and run amok in your life. You must take your responsibility for the things you allow into your biosphere, into your culture, very seriously to achieve quietness, to achieve peace.
Achieving that peace for yourself and the lives of those around you is quite a feat that will require you to go to great lengths in a relentless war. The challenge is to not be overwhelmed or discouraged by the daunting task ahead but to take it one little chunk at a time until you are victorious.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”