Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to maintain a sense of peace. The world roars with words and behaviors that create headaches and spike blood pressure. Get engrossed by the daily news feeds, the social networks, or even the drivers who cut us off during our morning commute, and we risk losing our sense of peace. If we add marital or financial problems, a cycle of homelessness, worries about aging parents, restlessness at a low-paying job, concerns are gang members wooing a teenager, and a multitude of other life challenges, we don't walk from peace to anger. We sprint.
Anger is like the gaping ditch we know is coming. We know it should be avoided. But once we flirt with anger that ditch draws closer. Passivity is no different. Passivity stands out like a dark closet. Once inside, the door slams, and we feel trapped by the inability to move or say anything. We grope in the darkness, feeling immobile and overrun by circumstances.
But peace? Peace takes eyes wide open. Peace takes radical dependence on the Holy Spirit. Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:1-4:
Therefore I, the prisoner united with the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called.
Always be humble, gentle and patient, bearing with one another in love,
and making every effort to preserve the unity the Spirit gives through the binding power of shalom.
There is one body and one Spirit, just as when you were called you were called to one hope.
And there is one Lord, one trust, one immersion, and one God, the Father of all, who rules over all, works through all and is in all. (Complete Jewish Bible).
Paul says he's a prisoner of God and called to Him. And that's the first step that tells us how to keep our peace. Neither anger nor passivity rules our lives. As Jesus followers, we've submitted ourselves to Him and not the chaotic press of cable news or social media sites. Our agenda is the one He sets. If we don't know His agenda for a situation, we ask.
Second, worldly anger and passivity don't fit into Paul's list of attributes for Jesus followers called by the Lord.
Third, this is where our actions come in. We must make "every effort to preserve the unity the Spirit gives through the binding power of shalom." What is shalom in Hebrew thought? Completeness. Soundness. Welfare. Peace. (See this article on peace.) We can't afford to lose peace. It's not like a piece of clothing we can afford to throw away accidentally. Peace is a spiritual necessity that undergirds us like the mountains.
Fourth, we're not called to the places of anger and passivity. We're called to one body, one Spirit, and one hope. Paul's words tell us that God calls us to higher spiritual places. This means we need to set the GPS of our souls above the clamor around us. We have to cling to the truths of God's heavenly realm or else we'll sink in the mire of this earthly one.
Fifth, Paul says there's one Lord, one trust, one immersion, and one God. And He alone provides peace. In Him, we have put our trust and displayed our faith at baptism. Our faith blooms right here. In Him. He rules over all and works through all. In other words, He's got this. Nothing surprises Him. Nothing escapes Him. What lies in the human heart remains open before Him. The Lord misses nothing -- including our short-sighted decisions to opt for anger or passivity when He generously offers us His shalom.
To engage with other Jesus-followers seeking to show shalom in the leadership God has called us to, please contact us at dlftx.org.
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