The Rare Fruit of the Spirit: Peace
When we strive for the fruit of the spirit that is love and joy we strive for the wonderful, God-grown variety. We accept no substitutes and we are aware that there are cheapened, weakened, less wholesome varieties of love and joy that are not produced by the Holy Spirit.
However, peace is different. Peace is just simply a rare fruit. We are not accustomed to its taste or its presence. When we see it, it seems so strange and out of place. But when we taste it we know that it is good. And when we cultivate it in our life together we realize that the fruit of the spirit that is peace is truly a gift from God because it doesnt grow naturally or wild in the soil of our world.
We tend to define peace as the absence of something: The absence of war, conflict, stress, fear, noise. Consider why we do that: Because we are not used to the alternative that peace is actually something positive and war, conflict, stress, fear, and noise are actually the absence of peace.
But peace is more than absence of negative elements. It is the presences of something very good. It may be more accurate to say that the negative elements are the absence of peace. In the Hebrew, this present peace is known as shalom. It is something real and it involves relationships. We see it at the creation ... Creation It was good and very good But in a corrupted world we dont recognize the shalom of God ...
Christs mission is to restore that shalom ... The world vs. Christ John 14 Christ gives peace, but the world gives ...
Why is it difficult to cultivate peace? [What does the world give?]
Our world and culture are fragmented: We are fragmented in so many ways.
Our world and culture and polarized:
Our culture wants to force us to take extreme positions. Examples: Red States vs. Blue States. Liberal vs. Conservative. There are absolutes, but these do not demand that we are polarized from others. We are in the world though not of the world.
Our world and culture are compartmentalized:
Our world and culture compartmentalizes life by setting up different expectations in different settings. This calls for different rules. One set of rules and expectations at home. One set of rules and expectations at work/school. One set of rules and expectations in church. This confusion keeps us from peace which is a result of submitting to the rule of God.
Can we recognize the problem? A compartmentalized life challenges our allegiances. Strangely, we only know peace when we are so devoted to God that our allegiance is undivided. No compromises are made in any other area of our lives.
Through history, the martyrs have peace because their allegiance is not divided. The ethics of our culture would have advised persecuted Christians in the late first century to go ahead and make an offering to the altar of the emperor. After all, it is just politics and isnt really your faith. But they didnt compartmentalize their lives like we do. And so many who would not worship the emperor and call him Lord and God where executed. Foolish? Perhaps by the standards of our culture, but that devotion was built on peace given by the true Lord and God and the martyrs gave witness to a faith that outlasted their persecutors.
How to Cultivate Peace
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