THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE WAY FORWARD IN CHRIST
UNITY AND PEACE - 3
The Lord continues with hard teachings that are essential
to living the authentic Christian life in general, and in
maintaining unity and peace in particular. The world does
not believe in such teachings and values, and that is why
there is so much strife and division. But unfortunately, many
Christians also do not live out such divine directives, and
so even inside the Church and Christian communities there
is much division.
we saw what we are to avoid, nay, what we are to put to death
within ourselves. Today we are told what we positively are
to do, what we are to “put on then, as God’s chosen
ones, holy and beloved” (Col 3:12a). What are these?
“Heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness,
and patience” (Col 3:12b). Especially for situations
of conflict. Quite different from the usual responses
of anger, bitterness, antagonism, impatience, intolerance,
“bearing with one another and forgiving one another,
if one has a grievance against another” (Col 3:13a).
You have a grievance because of something done or said,
or not done or said, to you? Bear with and forgive the
one who hurt you. What? After what he/she did? Yes, “as
the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.”
(Col 3:13b). Know that someone’s causing you hurt
is nothing compared to how we continue to hurt our Lord.
Know that Jesus said God’s forgiveness to you is
dependent on your forgiving others.
Whoa. That is too difficult. Impossible. No way. How can we
even start to do those? It is all a matter of focus. Are you
focused on Christ, or on yourself and the one who hurt you?
If you claim to be a Christian and are thus focused on Christ,
then what are the virtues you must hold, which lead you to
the actions you must do?
The love of God. “And over all these put on love,
that is, the bond of perfection.” (Col 3:14). Love
is not self-seeking, right? Love is self-sacrificial,
right? Do we need to demand justice for ourselves?
peace of Christ. “And let the peace of Christ control
your hearts, the peace into which you were also called
in one body.” (Col 3:15a). You were called into
the community to be a peacemaker, not a peace-disturber.
But it starts with you, with your own heart. And we cannot
reason out that there is someone who disturbs our peace.
If that were the case, we would all be ineligible for
community. Rather, despite having our peace disturbed,
we let the peace of Jesus control our hearts. Try it.
Forgive. Get rid of the poison of anger and bitterness.
And begin to feel the peace that surpasses understanding,
the peace that God provides to those who try to purify
their minds and hearts.
“And be thankful.” (Col 3:15b). There is so
much to be grateful for. Why focus on the things that
disturb our peace? A truly grateful heart is a heart that
can overcome suffering and pain and even injustice.
word of Christ. “Let the word of Christ dwell in
you richly” (Col 3:16a). All these are in the Bible,
and much of these I have been teaching in my From the
SG articles and my books, which are mostly based on scripture.
Read the Bible. Meditate on God’s word. Pray with
the scriptures. Allow the very word of God to radically
wisdom of God. “as in all wisdom you teach and admonish
one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (Col 3:16b).
Consider your household meetings. You start by singing
songs of worship. You have prayers of thanksgiving. Then
do you gossip and malign those who hurt you? If so, then
let everyone else teach and admonish one another whenever
this starts to happen. Otherwise, both the gossiper and
the ones who listen to the gossip, who do not take the
opportunity to teach and admonish, are lacking in wisdom
that comes from God, and actually manifest human wisdom.
glory of God. “And whatever you do, in word or in
deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving
thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col 3:17).
We start our prayer meeting with the sign of the cross,
in the name of the triune God. Do we then proceed to engage
in the works of the flesh (see yesterday’s piece).
Do we do or say anything that is actually displeasing
to God? Are we acting in the name of Jesus?
whoa. Too difficult. Impossible. You ain’t seen nothing
yet. You want impossible, here it is: “But to you who
hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
(Lk 6:27-28). Did you hear Jesus? Are you listening? Did Jesus
say it is OK to hate your enemy and malign him (her)? Or do
bad to him by gossiping about him? Or to wish him ill?
does it have to be this way? Well, it is the way of Jesus,
and it is the topsy-turvy world of the Kingdom of God as against
the kingdom of this world. “For if you love those who
love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those
who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to
you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same.”
(Lk 6:32-33). We pride ourselves in loving our children, in
having caring households, in trying to do good to others;
but that is not just what being Christ is about. We want unity
and peace in our homes and in society, but we do and say wrong
things that cause strife and disunity in our community. There
is something seriously amiss there.
Jesus points out the way. “But rather, love your enemies
and do good to them” (Lk 6:35a). Listen, we often find
satisfaction in tearing down our opponents, oftentimes behind
their backs. How shallow our happiness is! Rather, follow
the way of Jesus, and “then your reward will be great
and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself
is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.” (Lk 6:35c).
It is not about your opponent; it is all about God. It is
not about what the other person did to you, but what God has
already done for you.
to God rather than to your sinful brother. Look to God’s
perfection rather than to your brother’s faults. Look
to how God has bountifully blessed and loved you rather than
to how your brother has fallen short in his relationship to
you. Give thanks and praise to God always in in everything
in a nutshell, what is one way to unity and peace (and know
that it is not just about what happens in community, but what
will happen to you as well)? “Stop judging and you will
not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.” (Lk 6:37). And if
we do not? Then we can expect the same from God. “For
the measure with which you measure will in return be measured
out to you.” (Lk 6:38b).
difficult and challenging. But is that not what the Christian
life is? It is a call to holiness, to perfection, to being
another Christ. It is mercy. “Be merciful, just as your
Father is merciful.” (Lk 6:36). God allows bad things
to happen to us, so that He can draw out the good that He
desires for us.
you, Lord, for your great goodness and mercy. “Let everything
that has breath give praise to the Lord! Hallelujah! (Ps 150:6).