The Church Revitalization Podcast – Episode 169
*This week’s episode of the podcast was written and recorded prior to the passing of Dr. Aubrey Malphurs. You can read a statement from our TMG team here.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Mathew 5:9
As we continue through advent this week, we’re talking about Peace. There are dozens of references to peace in the New Testament alone. Peace is certainly a key theme in the coming of the Messiah and in His imminent return. With the birth of Christ, we gained an option of peace never before seen. With the giving of the Holy Spirit, we gained the ability of peace as we entered the Church age. When Jesus returns, we will finally gain the peace promised, once and for all, who are in Christ.
In the beginning, in the garden, there was peace. God and man had peace in their relationship, and man had internal peace because all his needs and desires were met. Sin changed all that. We are now born into a world where peace is not the default state. Our daily existence and pursuits revolve around regaining what we know in our hearts we need but do not have.
The verse above stood out to me in this week’s preparation because it includes us in the responsibility of peace. Am I a peacemaker? Sometimes, but not all the time. Thank you, Jesus, for your grace! As we survey our modern culture, peacemakers seem few. The opposite seems to be what feeds most social discourse. Even attempting peace is frequently seen as weakness and summons the wolves to circle and attack. We don’t live for this world, though, so we should not let its sin and failures dictate our posture. There will be no true lasting peace until Jesus comes back, but we can be His peace when we can and should.
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It seems to me that peace may be lost on two fronts: external and internal. Externally, conflict with others breaks our peace. Internally, fear breaks our peace.
1 – Losing peace through conflict
Jesus told us that there would be trouble in this life. How can the peace of God share space with conflict? The promised peace is in spite of conflict. In spite of broken relationships, death, sorrow, and sin.
In the context of church revitalization, some conflicts may go away, but new conflicts may arise. One of the primary sources of conflict in churches is a lack of clarity around mission and vision. It may not be understood by the parties that that is the issue, but it is likely to be at the root. When the primary goals of the church have not been identified and communicated well, people’s expectations may not be met. When that happens, conflict arises. The antidote, then, is clarity of function and future. However, when mission and vision are clarified, it may create conflict where none previously existed. With an unclarified mission and vision, everyone is free to believe what they want about where the church is going. Everyone assumes it’s going in a direction that they would agree with. If it turns out to be different than what they thought, we get problems. Unfortunately, many chase a false peace of trying to make everyone happy or giving them what they want.
When Christ-followers find conflict and seek unity and understanding by putting scripture and God’s calling first, then the peace of God prevails.
The ultimate breaking of peace through conflict is our own broken relationship with God through sin. The only way to restore the peace of our relationship is through the salvation of Jesus Christ.
2 – Losing peace through fear
Internal peace is most often lost through internal stress and worry. When we dig into the issues that trouble us, they usually boil down to a fear of something. A lack of peace about our finances is a fear of losing position or comfort at best and a fear of losing basic needs like food, shelter, and clothing at worst. A lack of peace about our health arises when we fear test results or diagnosis or treatment options or pain, or even death.
Fear is a powerful emotion and can drive people to make irrational decisions. God’s Word speaks to all these fears. One of the best examples of inner peace is Jesus calming the storm. He was sleeping through it! Consider the scene – Jesus communicated a mission. In Mark 4:35, he said, “Let us go over to the other side.” The other side of the lake was the destination that God willed. Could anything keep Him from accomplishing that mission? Could a storm derail him? Jesus had peace in the mission, and it allowed him to sleep through the storm. The disciples had heard the mission, but they lacked the faith to maintain peace when trouble arose.
Conflict and fear will come up in your life and in your church. Lean on the Prince of Peace to build your faith and restore your peace.
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A.J. Mathieu is the President of the Malphurs Group. He is passionate about helping churches thrive. A.J. lives in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex, enjoys the outdoors, and loves spending time with his wife and two sons. Click here to email A.J.