Becoming what God wants us to be
By Tony Philip Oreso
It was Sabbath morning, and I was getting ready to go to church. My wife, my daughter, and my son had already left for the Sabbath school program. Soft instrumental music hummed from my small digital radio, punctuating the silence of the room. As I finished dressing, my eyes caught a new wall hanging. I hadn’t noticed it before and quickly concluded that my wife must have placed it there the previous day.
The wall hanging contained an illustration of two white doves holding grapevines in their beaks and cooing close to each other. The following words appeared in bold under the illustration: “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.”
I was intrigued by the hanging and its message: peace. We refer to peace so often during any given day. We use it in the context of politics, couples and families, schools, churches, the workplace, and in many other circumstances.
The Bible mentions the word “peace” dozens of times in the New Testament alone. In our daily lives believers strive as much as is humanly possible to avoid war and violence. Each time we try to achieve peace within our realm, we become part of a significant group of people that is also mentioned in Scripture—peacekeepers. When we look around us, we recognize that peace is one of the central characteristics of Christianity that the world desperately needs.
Here are four important elements of biblical “peacekeeping.”
“Seek Peace and Pursue It” (Ps. 34:14)
Like any other treasured quality, peace must be sought after, implying that it is not always readily available. In its absence we experience all sorts of turbulence and uncertainty, which in the end compromise our freedom. In order to seek peace and pursue it, we as Christians must make peace with ourselves first. Meeting this challenge will depend largely on how true and loyal we are in our own personal lives. What do we eat that is not in line with biblical principles of healthful living? How do we feed our mind? Do we grow spiritually? Do we fight corruption within us before we correct others? These important questions form the bedrock of making peace within ourselves. Once we have looked long and hard into the mirror reflecting our own lives, it will be easier for us to extend our example to our immediate neighbors.
“There Is No Peace for the Wicked” (Isa. 48:22)
It is important to note that we cannot achieve a peaceful state of affairs, whether in our families or in our countries, if we are wicked. Understood as morally bad and corrupt, being wicked is a root cause for any violent situation. In a family it may be lack of faithfulness, irresponsibility, or a misguided sense of feeling toward each other. For a nation it may be corruption, power struggles, embezzlement of national funds, or unfair distribution of national wealth.
"As light bearers, seeking to reflect the "light of the world," we are caled to fight wickedness."
The goal in our efforts to obtain peace remains the question of how we can escape the web of wickedness and experience peace. Wherever we are, as Christians we are challenged to stand as pillars of light in a dark world.
As light bearers, seeking to reflect the “light of the world,” we are called to fight wickedness. Consider these points:1
♦ We are aliens to the world because the practices of this world have diverged greatly from what God originally intended. This has made the Christian lifestyle seem foreign to the “norms” of the world.
♦ Resist. If we are to serve as good examples to the people around us, we need to be able to resist worldly distractions and influences.
♦ Stand out. The best way to reach others is by letting God’s glory shine through us to others. We need to practice to live in the world, but not be of the world.
♦ Stand firm. We may be ridiculed for behaving in accordance with biblical principles. Because of the sinfulness of the world, deceit, jealousy, and power struggles can taint the judgment of those not grounded in the Word.
♦ Be good for the right reason: our good deeds should not point to ourselves, but should aim to glorify God.
“Blessed Are the Peacemakers” (Matt. 5:9)
In His teaching to the multitudes gathered at the foot of the Mount of Blessing, Christ mentioned peacemakers as a special group. Being a peacemaker has its express reward of bearing the title of “a child of” God.
Many notable figures have advocated for peace—Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and others made political or social peace a key part of their agenda. They all advocated in one way or another for peace on this planet.
However, “men cannot manufacture peace. Human plans for the purification and uplifting of individuals or of society will fail of producing peace, because they do not reach the heart. The only power that can create or perpetuate true peace is the grace of Christ. When this is implanted in the heart, it will cast out the evil passions that cause strife and dissension.”2
It’s our challenge as Christians to welcome the One who is peace (and brings peace) into our hearts and lives so that we may become peacemakers in a world in need of peace.
“Peace I Leave With You, My Peace I Give to You” (John 14:27)
In our desire to be peacemakers Christ must be at the center of everything. Challenges to peace are everywhere: families are breaking up; we live in countries in which corruption has become a way of life; at times we even face strife in our congregations. Individually, and as communities, we need to recognize Christ as the only source of that peace we need so much. As we look for counsel and advice on peace, these words bear notice: “The will of God is not hidden. We do not need occult knowledge. We do not need questionable experiences. We need to listen to God’s Word and put aside our own agendas and attempts to interpret it for our own concern.”3
1 I am indebted to Amy Prindle, “Strength in the Storm,” LEAD Magazine, January-March 2009, p. 83, for some of the key points in this section.
2 Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Boise, Idaho: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1940), p. 305.
3 Ekkehardt Mueller, “The Foundation of Christian Life,” LEAD Magazine, January-March 2009, p. 56.
Tony Philip Oreso is a freelance writer based in Nairobi, Kenya.