As I was walking up the sidewalk to my church building on Sunday, I noticed two women coming out of the first gathering. They were talking with one another in a different language. Isn’t it amazing that we can all gather together no matter the language barrier and worship the same God? No matter the color of our skin, the language we speak, the culture we grew up in – God is God of all. He knows every one’s name; knows every one’s heart and He loves us anyway! God’s family is so diverse, and we can be a part of it. My local church body represents about eleven different nations under one roof. I find that amazing.
Contrast the unity I experienced on Sunday with the divisive experience we are having in this country at this moment in time. My perspective will be totally different than one whose skin is darker than mine. I cannot walk in their shoes. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have empathy and compassion for their struggles. I wish there wasn’t a struggle. I wish we could live like we’re supposed to live – as one who loves another – not as tolerant people, but ones who truly love one another and even love all our differences. Differences make the world go round. If we were all the same, how boring would that be? Yet, we were all made differently AND all made in the image of God.
It’s interesting that this week of all weeks I was studying “shoes of peace” in the Armor of God study. The week that has been without peace shows our greatest need of peace. But it will not come at the expense of removing guns from the hands of individuals – if one wants to kill, they can find any method available to do the job – sure guns are the most available and impersonal way of killing; but there has to be another way to solve the problem. The very simplistic answer is Jesus. He is the only peace we’ll find in the craziness of this world. And Scripture tells us, it’s going to get worse not better. There doesn’t seem to be much hope in the future, does it?
In Andy Stanley’s message on Sunday – actually it was an interview of sorts – he made the comment about the diversity in the early church. For the first twenty years, the early church dealt with a great deal of racial tension. Between Jews and Gentiles, slaves and freed men, and then throw women in the mix; it was just all kinds of tension going on. Jews did not associate with Gentiles on any level. The women were considered second class citizens. Before the early church even got off to a running start, God had to deal with the racial tensions, or else the movement would have fizzled from the start. Jesus elevated everyone to the same level.
Jesus had already addressed the idea of “clean and unclean” in a message to the Pharisees. The Pharisees were concerned with the disciples’ unsanitary eating habits. Jesus said it wasn’t what was on the outside that made a person unclean but it’s the heart that matters. The Pharisees had a heart problem, and it would keep them out of the Kingdom of God.
The heart is still the problem today. Nothing has changed much in 2000 years – actually since the beginning of time. We still have issues that need to be resolved; not through violence but through love. But nothing will change unless hearts are turned toward Jesus. Jesus told His followers that we will have trials and sorrows; it’s part of life. However, He came to give us a new life and a new hope. He is the only one who can give us peace. We cannot have peace of God if we do not have peace with God.
Apostle Paul likened peace to the shoes of a soldier. A Roman soldier wore sandals with knobs. It helped the soldier stand firm in the face of the enemy. Peace is our anchor; it holds us firmly in place when the craziness of the world around us feels off kilter. Jesus is the answer we seek to overcome the strife we find in this current world. He is our anchor in the storm. Peace is available for every individual who calls upon the name of Jesus. He provides what we need to calm the storms in our lives.
I wish we could all live in harmony now, but I know it is impossible through our own human effort. But what’s impossible for us to do, God makes all things possible. One day it will be different. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream. One day it will be realized. One day all things will be made new. That’s the hope of our future.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)