Sunday’s Sermon — Point Four

June 1, 2007, 2:00 pm; posted by
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How do we live as a Christian? We must be peaceable.

Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”

There are two aspects to this verse — first, there’s peace on our part; we are called to live in peace with other people. But second, there’s an understanding that sometimes this doesn’t entirely depend on you. Others can bring the fight, and there are times when it’s okay to defend yourself, if God so desires.

But there’s more evidence of God’s command that we be peaceful, in James, where he writes that the wisdom of God is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy . . . now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” And he goes on; he says, “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.”

A lack of peace is a lack of trust. I think back to the times when I quarreled with my brothers about who had the larger slice of pie — this was a lack of trust that I would receive enough food to satisfy me. Or when I complained that my sister was allowed to reach first base in a softball game after she should have been out, I didn’t trust in my father’s innate fairness, and I had a desire to win. Fights and wars, James tells us, come from our desires for pleasure and the unmet needs we think we have. But there is no reason to mistrust God! If He can clothe the lilies and birds of the field, Jesus said, He will surely provide for us, worth infinitely more than the flowers and gulls.

The concept of desensitization tells us that every time you do something, it produces less feeling, and it becomes easier and easier to do it again, and it’s the same with seeking our own desires. At some point we become ‘past feeling,’ willing to do whatever it takes, regardless of who we step on to get there. So we need hearts that are pure and peaceable, gentle and willing to yield, rather than ones that are eager and willing to stick up for every right we might claim. A Christian must live at peace.

So how can we live as Christians?
With passion for holiness; we must abhor evil and cling to what is good.
Full of humility, so that we understand our place in the world and in the kingdom of God.
Out of a true and selfless love, that proves itself through service to others and forgiveness for wrongs.
And above all, with a heart of peace that comes from reckless trust in the only One who has ever kept every promise.

Directions have to start, as well as end, with the destination, or you have no idea how to get there. It’s the same in this passage. If you look at the first verse in Romans 12, it tells us to present our bodies as “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is [our] reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” The word ‘transformed’ is metamorphoō, just like the English ‘metamorphosis,’ and it speaks of an actual physical change in form.

As we grow in these areas (holiness, humility, love, and peace), our minds will change, in a tangible and discernible way. And when our minds change, we will change what’s around us, and then we can produce the result we started with — overcoming evil with good: the true sign and goal of living like a Christian.


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