Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Peace Is Elusive At Times

Philippians 4:7

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

RayMcDA little over a week ago my mom transitioned to heaven. I have an extraordinary amount of peace with this situation. I have confidence that mom is with Jesus and with my dad again. I grieve my loss – but I rejoice in mom’s victory and that brings me peace.

A friend of mine ended a multiple year relationship recently and I am praying peace for him. Another friend is dealing with cancer and treatment and I am praying peace for her. Still another friend is waging a battle against stubborn family members and I pray peace for them.

Peace is elusive at times. Peace is something that most of us seek but few of us find. We live in a day and age when people are struggling to find peace. We even struggle with what is right and what is wrong at times. Our parents and grandparents and so forth probably thought that each generation faced an uncertain world around them and a struggle for right and wrong. They probably thought they lived in a world where others called wrong as right and the right as wrong. Key to this thought is that we don’t all have the same moral values or ideology. We don’t all see the world or truth as the same.

Peace is elusive at times. Racial tension is still high in our society. A call for racial reconciliation – a call to treat persons by the content of their heart rather than the color of their skin – is still being met with opposition. Fifty to sixty years after some tried to awaken our country to racial tensions – these tensions are still alive in some folks and in some areas more than others. There are still those who hate because of skin color – as crazy as that seems.

Peace is elusive at times. There are ideologies today – as there have been in days gone by – where people think the only way to nirvana is to kill all infidels. ISIS (radical Islamic terrorists) is still a threat – killing Muslims – Christians – Jews – and others – around the world because they don’t agree with their ideology. They are creating fear around the world with their understanding of right and wrong. Most agree this is wrong but we can’t seem to agree how to defeat this hatred.

Peace is elusive at times. Police officers are still walking around with targets on them. I know that some in our society feel that they have been unfairly treated by a select few officers – but Mahatma Gandhi is credited with saying – An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind. Martin Luther King, Jr – is credited with saying – Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend. We must find a way beyond our differences.

Peace is elusive at times. Many Christian churches have divided over the full acceptance of gays in the life of the church. Our own denomination (the United Methodist Church) is one of the last mainline denominations to still call homosexual activity unacceptable – sinful. Both sides of this issue are battling and dividing our church – our people. Local churches – like the one I serve – are being divided over this issue. At our last General Conference – a truce of sorts was called – allowing deeper dialogue on the issue over the next year or two. Yet – as a call for no more trials goes forth – the Western Jurisdiction of the UMC – elected a married – openly gay pastor – as a bishop. The South Central Jurisdiction of the UMC has requested a declaratory ruling on this election before the Judicial Council (the denomination’s Supreme Court). And so the truce didn’t last very long and the division is getting greater. Some believe a split in our denomination is forthcoming – like with other denominations – over this issue and others.

Peace is elusive at times. Oh how I wish there was a book that could help us understand right from wrong? Wouldn’t it be nice if there were something written down that all could agree upon. Of course there is the Bible – yet there is debate – even in the Christian Church – around its authority and how to interpret it. I guess we’re left to debate and argue and decide – for ourselves – right from wrong – and the division will increase.

Peace is elusive at times. My understanding of right and wrong may not be your understanding on these and other issues of the day. What I do know is this – God is right and we are trying to understand God’s right (and failing at times). While we do this – the Good News is that we can still have a peace in uncertain times. Today’s passage comes from final instructions from Paul to his readers in his epistle titled Philippians. Here is today’s passage in partial context. Philippians 4:4–9 – Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Peace is elusive at times. While we may not all agree on what is right and what is wrong – we can receive peace for our journey together with Jesus. We can strive to put our minds on the things of God – even as we debate the things we don’t understand or understand differently. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Just something for us to think about today as we go on our way.

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February 14, 2017 - Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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