Since I’ve been writing this category, “Peace, Love and Unity,” in my community, Jacksonville, Florida, to God’s glory, I’m happy to say that I can see transformation and life change. That really inspires me, and speaks to the courage and strength of humanity.
Peace is an active pursuit, one that we’re called to as followers of Jesus.
It’s a part of that love your neighbor thing that Jesus was always talking about and lived out. Jesus came to earth and lived the perfect, sinless life as a man for one reason – so that we could each have an eternal and personal relationship with God. I’m so grateful for that. Interestingly, the Prince of Peace (that would be Jesus) wasn’t well received by many religious people. They didn’t understand Him and wanted something other than what He was offering. And so, they had Him removed from the face of the earth. It just so happens that this all played out in concert with God’s perfect plan. Since then, others have come to share the Gospel, and the theme of peace, love and unity. Paul was a follower of Jesus who was heavily persecuted in the same way. They used the same words in response to Paul’s teaching, “remove him from the face of the earth,” for Paul’s sharing the same message.
“Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions,” Prov.18:2
Our day of remembrance for Martin Luther King, Jr. always brings me back to the peace, love and unity thing. It warms my heart to know that this message is getting sticky, and that lives are being transformed.
The cool thing about peace is that it is just like success, it’s all about ambition. Pulling from my blog post just last week, we talked about how God defines and measures success – it begs us to answer the question, are we faithful to God’s ways? It’s based on ambition, not necessarily results. Peace is most definitely not just a lack of conflict, though that is a part of it. So you’re at odds with someone, and you want to do the right thing. Praise the Lord!
“Success if not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill
If there is one thing we can do as a society, one thing we can do to better our planet we should listen to the words of Jesus on this day… and build upon peace, love and unity.
Praise the Lord for those hearts that were brave enough to stand up for what was right 50 years ago. These are and have been many transformations of the hearts within people who didn’t want to hear the message, but repented and turned toward God anyway. Granted, my community is one that sits in the stinky armpit of disparity in the history of civil rights. Just read the history of it and you’ll see the same thing. Mr. King, Andy Young and many like them were beaten up here, and in the next town down, St. Augustine. Amongst the disparity to justice is inequality that I shutter to think of let alone recount what I have personally witnessed firsthand. The truth be told, it’s not one that only transcends racial boundaries. Anger and hatred remain the scourge to our communities.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Dr. King
I had the privilege to brush shoulders with Andrew Young, early in my career and during my brief stint as a big-company guy, organizing a leadership roundtable on environmental justice. Mr. Young was a consultant for our firm, based in Atlanta, and came to town occasionally as requested to help out. Barnett Banks was one of my big win clients and I shared a close relationship with their environmental manager and counsel. It just kind of dropped in my lap, so to speak, as others early in their careers were cutting teeth on the long road to becoming an executive. This was an early impression for me on the power, relevance and beauty of the Gospel, and how peace might work.
For me personally, I found my calling in the Lord and long ago bypassed the pomp and circumstance of marching to and across the stage of life for a prestigious title and the worldly rewards that may come along with all of that. It’s all relevant in sharing how I came to know the Lord, found peace and experience joy in the crazy world we live in today.
I’ve written about Martin Luther King, Jr. and Andy Young several times before. One of my favorite posts is focused on MLK Jr. and religious freedom. You can read it by clicking this link. Would you agree that Dr. King was successful in his pursuit of peace? I think so, and will try to explain how it’s done biblically.
How did we arrive at trying to find a peaceful perspective? Not just in where we are today, or right now. Thinking back to the time of Jesus and right behind him, Paul; and the time of MLK, Jr., 2,000 years later; and finally, in comparison to where we are today, there are still many parallels to biblical times. I guess in part it is all about human nature. However, in the spirit of peace, it means we come together, side by side, with people we don’t see eye to eye on every issue. We don’t ask or dispute, we just love. Please don’t take that for granted as it really is not the norm. People are not born racist, and we’re only born with one entitlement, the choice of eternal life in heaven, or the gnashing of teeth.
Peace should be a movement of intent focus for all people.
As someone who makes peace, we have to be guided and driven by our identity in Jesus Christ. God provides us with the tools to utilize in our quest for peace. Through the power of choice, we can turn from conflict, conform to the likeness of Jesus, and be an ambassador of reconciliation.
So from now on, we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:16-19
Remember, the apostle Paul was christened the ambassador and appointed the servant to the Lord. At his darkest moment, Jesus appeared to Paul and turned him around on a dime. Paul’s hardened heart was changed, he went from the greatest persecutor and assassin of Christians to the dude who wrote the majority of the New Testament. He shared the Gospel to the ends of the earth, becoming the instrument God used to create radical change in the name of love, and peace.
Bear in mind many times all we need is love, and possibly a little time to overcome conflict. Reasonable people respond. If you find that isn’t the case, God’s word, our only offensive weapon in the armor outlined in Ephesians, is all we need to combat evil and conflict.
Start a list of “it is written’s” – write them on the tablet of your heart so that you may have them and be able to use them for your own benefit, and to help you in times of struggling for the right words to speak for the sake of peace.
Here’s one of my It Is Written’s: We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
Be quick to listen. Seek Godly counsel, and keep doing what is right. Breathe grace. Gently restore, if necessary, by speaking the truth in love. Choose the right time and place, and speak only as a brother in love. Remember, the ultimate weapon is deliberate, focused love. Discern the deepest needs of those you are seeking to restore to peace, and fulfill their needs; if they’re thirsty, give them something to drink. This approach is one of great strength, courage and discipline.
Indeed, at that point it would be up to the antagonist to repent and fall in line, but that’s the choice they can make. Recognizing our limits, we can feel good about our actions and efforts, knowing that we’ve done all we can, and simply lay the matter in God’s hands. Boom, you just found peace.
This one short verse sums it all up:
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21
Love rules, just like the song goes, “He rules the world with truth and grace.” As far as you are in control of, live at peace by loving everyone.
Peace is a legacy of hope, and one that matters.