Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Love and Peace

This is an age when “Love” and “Peace”, two great words with unlimited quality in them, are used as synonyms for limited physical events such as “sexual relationships” and “no war”.

Two other words come to mind which are not as unlimited in meaning and where no attempt has been made to change their meaning. They are largely ignored, foreign to our vocabularies. This is a time of violent expression and polarization of peoples, opinions and nations. Even the Christians find themselves choosing up sides and thereby ruling out the use and practice of these words. These words are “gentle” and “kind”.

Ephesians 4:31, 32 say:

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger, and clamor and evil speaking be put away from you with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Verse 31 speaks of wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking, motivated by malice and bitterness. It is almost a description of the world today, or at least a part of it, the student world. Verse 32 speaks of forgiveness, motivated by and expressed with kindness and tenderheartedness. This is the kind of forgiveness we received in Christ. Much that is called “forgiveness” among people is shallow, on the surface and unreal.

In our desire to witness for Jesus Christ we may sound harsh and we may argue with heat. This is in contradiction to II Timothy 2:23:

“But stay away from foolish and ignorant arguments; you know that they end up in quarrels. The Lord’s servant must not quarrel. He must be KIND toward all, a good and patient teacher, who is GENTLE as he corrects his opponents.”

As the opposition to the Gospel and to Christians becomes more violent and threatening, the temptation is to “fight fire with fire”. We must recognize the temptation for what it is, a temptation. We must not quarrel. We must be kind and gentle. When the disciples were not received in a village in Samaria and James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven to consume them, they were rebuked by Jesus with the words; “Ye know not what manner of Spirit ye are of” (Luke 9:54). Isn’t this a necessary reminder to us today? Are we as easily recognized by our manner as Christians as by our message? This is a day of confrontation and, regardless of our political views, we must recognize that violence, evil speaking (which includes sarcasm), and downgrading our opponents, are not becoming to Christians.

James wrote in his letter (3:14):

“But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.”

How do we sound at the church business meeting? The PTA? The neighborhood discussion? The family dinner table?

Paul made this the basis of his entreaty to the church at Corinth when he wrote, “I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ”, (II Corinthians 10:1). To the believers at Thessalonica he could say that his actions when with them were “gentle among you, like a nurse taking care of her children” (I Thessalonians 2:7). Do we equate spiritual authority with high-handedness, riding roughshod over the opinions and rights of others?

Although much more could be said, may we remind you and ourselves that this gentleness and kindness comes from one Source alone:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

(Taken from Day & Night, 2004)

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