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War and Peace

April 10, 2015

My wife and I are at an interesting time in life with our kids. With one in the pre-teen stages, another almost in double digits, and a third that’s half the age of the first, things can get sideways really quickly. Each of them has similar traits originally belonging to their mother and I, and yet each of them is distinctly different. Combine all of us together, and you’ve got 5 unique personalities trying to coexist in an 850 square foot 2 1/2 bedroom house. That makes for some “fun” on occasion!

In all honesty, we do pretty well with each other most of the time, but there are “those moments” when stuff happens: something is done or said, someone gets emotionally or physically hurt (with two of my kids being boys, rough play is going to happen!), and it spirals down from there. My wife and I are also not immune to this. We get on each others’ nerves, get in each others’ way, and have moments of miscommunication that cause strife between us.

With this in mind, we’ve been working on how to function more cohesively as a family unit, and what better way to do that than to look into what God’s Word says! Now, we could have gone to the whole “children obey your parents” section, but that’s been overused in many homes on many occasions. Plus, it doesn’t tell adults how to act, other than not exasperating their children… and let’s be honest here… exasperation happens on both ends of the deal! No, rather than sticking with the old faithful (and most likely tuned-out) message, we looked elsewhere and found a word that spoke to all of us regardless of age or household status.

Ephesians 4:1-3 – As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Colossians 3:12-15 – Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Both of these verses cut deeply into our “right” to be angry over the actions of another. My wife and I are committed Christ-followers, and therefore, called to be examples of Christ-likeness to our children. Our two oldest children have accepted Christ into their lives and are learning how to follow His example. How will they learn? By watching their mother and I. Our youngest is beginning to ask questions about what it means to accept Jesus and be baptized. How will he learn? By watching his parents, his brother, and his sister. We must “clothe ourselves” with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. We must bear with each other, forgive quickly, and love deeply. Does that mean there won’t be consequences for actions? By no means. Part of loving our kids is allowing them to learn from their mistakes. BUT… it does mean that we extend grace and make the effort to live at peace with each other.

What would it look like if the Church could live this way? Far too often the wants, thoughts, desires, agendas, and personal preferences of individuals (be they pastors, lay leaders, or congregation members) become stumbling blocks for others. A word is said, an action takes place, a decision gets made, a direction is taken, etc… and it causes division among the members of the body whether it was intended to or not. Our western American culture tells us it is our right and duty to become offended… to shout angrily in public… to degrade the character of another… to do whatever it takes to get the offending party to capitulate to our way of thinking… and if they don’t, then we take our toys and go home. Dirty laundry gets aired in public forum, reputations get blasted in private, people get un-friended and blocked on social media sites, and on and on…

This behavior is not just childish or rash. It is damaging to all parties involved. It is dangerous and long-lasting. Not only that, it is un-scriptural and degrading to the Bride of Christ, His Church. The world is watching us to see what we will do, and they are ready to pounce on anything that doesn’t look or sound like what the Good Book says Christ’s followers are supposed to look and sound like.

Are we human? Yes. Will we fail from time to time? Yes. Should those failures define us? No. A single incident should not. BUT… if a pattern of wrong behavior emerges, then what recourse do we have to come against their judgment? I can only pray we are able to live out the words found in Ephesians 5:1-2 – Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

My prayer for my wife and I is that we will live in a way that honors and worships Christ all day, every day, in every way. My prayer for my children is that they will see our example and do the same.

My prayer for the Church is that every member of her body across the globe would live in a way that honors and worships Christ all day, every day, in every way. My prayer for the world is that they would see our example and do the same.

Let it be so if that is Your Will, Lord. Amen.

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