Thursday, April 22, 2021

On a hillside 17) B7 Group peace - easy?


In this room with Jesus there are very different personalities, contrasting stories and complications in relationships. We know they argued about who was the most important.  It’s never easy in a group to remain at peace.  But now Jesus brings peace centre-stage as the characteristic of his people.

A (very) long time ago Carol and I attended a Christian Student Congress which drew hundreds of students from all denominations to Edinburgh.   And, unfortunately, it got off to a very bad start because the organizers had given us over to be a captive audience to TV filming a variety show.  It caused an almighty row, walkouts and the next time we met it fed the most ferocious anger and condemnation and divisions amongst us.  It was incredible uncomfortable being there. That’s why I remember it so well.  And someone sitting behind us said: 'See how these Christians love one another'.  It was irony because all we could see was the absence of love and peace.  It was later I realized that he was quoting  Tertullian (an early church leader) who lived around the end of the 2nd. century.  But when he said it he meant it for real: See how these Christians love each other and how they are ready to die for each other.  That’s Jesus followers at their best.

Sadly, we are naturally gifted at peace-wrecking.  On a spectrum from peace-making at the one end to peace-wrecking at the other, most of us gravitate towards the peace-wrecking end. Indeed, some have black belts in peace wrecking.  It is so easy to fall out with people, be hurt, jealous, angry, irritated, share bad chemistry.  Yes, spoil peace. When Jesus brings peace among his disciples he calls us to stop peace-wrecking to become peace makers. It's one of his tough demands but he promises his help.  It needs all the qualities we have met in the beatitudes so far - like meekness, gentleness with the strength of steel.  Velvet covered bricks.  Here are deeply challenging implications for how we behave together INSIDE church.   But there is much more....

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