No fightin' in the building. You got a grudge against someone, fight him Saturday afternoon.
Yesterday's sermon at Providence Church dealt with horizontal peacemaking (i.e., among humans), from Matthew 5:9.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." (ESV)
(click to listen)
“Peacemaking tries to build bridges to people. It does not want the animosity to remain. It wants reconciliation. It wants harmony.” -John Piper
I had essentially 4 points or contentions:
1. Be a peacemaker between yourself and others.
- This may entail being taken advantage of (Matt 5:38-41) and taking the initiative to love your enemies (Matt 5:43-48).
- However, as Martyn Lloyd-Jones notes, after conversion we see (a) ourselves differently, (b) others differently, and (c) the world differently (i.e., the purpose being the glory of God).
- So we forgive, as we have been forgiven (Col 3:13). We overlook an offense (Prov 19:11), knowing it is better to be wronged than to embarrass the church in court, for example (1 Cor 6:1-8). We may have to sacrifice our rights and privileges to live peaceably with the weaker or less mature Christians (Rom 14:13-19).
- Try to reconcile relationships as best you can (Heb 12:14; Rom 12:18), but even if the other party will not entertain the idea, you can always pray for softened hearts to allow for reconciliation in the future.
- Remember, fractured horizontal relationships jeopardize the experiential peace of the vertical relationship.(Matt 5:23-24; 1 Pet 3:7)
2. Be a peacemaker for others.
- Following Paul's example, we don't assume devout Christian people will work out their disagreements on their own. To prevent factions and threats to church unity, we must intervene to make peace (Phil 4:2-3).
- When you hear a Christian talking about another, bashing, belitting, and carrying on, suggest he/she talk with that person to get right the relationship. Offer to help them reconcile, though it be potentially costly and draining for you to do so.
3. Peace in the church glorifies God in the world.
- Sadly, the world does a better job of striving for peace than the church does. Ironically, the church knows the root problem is sin and the cure is the gospel. Until people have vertical peace, there's no chance for real horizontal peace.
- Sadly, the world puts a greater value on diversity than the church does. In contrast to the homogeneity principle, regardless of how much easier it makes church growth, unity in diversity around the cross glorifies God and gets the worlds attention. A good church for you is not necessarily one where there are many like you, but one where you can benefit from there being many unlike you.
- Christians in the church ought to handle conflict differently than the world does. Sadly, when there's a conflict in the church, the peaceful option is for someone to leave. Even in a Christian marriage, when conflict arises, someone will leave. But reconciliation of relationships is what glorifies God.
4. We do not pursue peace "at all costs."
- We do not pursue peace to the sacrifice of purity (Matt 5:8), of ourselves or the Gospel message. We do not contextualize to the point of espousing another gospel to get decisions or get along.
- We do not pursue peace to the sacrifice of righteousness (Matt 5:10-12) in behavior or doctrine. We do not sacrifice truth/doctrine to be ecumenical. J.C. Ryle wrote, "Never let us be guilty of sacrificing any portion of truth on the altar of peace."
- We do not sacrifice our relationship with Christ to get along with others, even family members (Matt 10:34-37).