It seems, though, that Satan will do almost everything to destroy the peace God’s children are promised. Whether through accusations, harassment, or false guilt, as a roaring lion he still seeks those he might devour.
Conflict Destroys Unity
One thing Satan uses to help break the peace in the lives of Christians is conflict between them. If Satan can entice believers into conflict, especially open conflict, unity in the body is destroyed.
In the Book of Philippians, Paul mentioned two women, Euodia and Syntyche, urging them “to agree in the Lord” (4:2). The source of their disagreement is not mentioned nor is the outcome of his request. The rift was so troublesome Paul asked for someone he calls a “true partner” to “help these women who have contended for the gospel at my side.”
Here were two believers – followers of Christ, laborers in the gospel – separated by conflict. I do not think it an accident that Paul closely follows this plea with a promise of God’s peace. “Don’t worry about anything,” he says, “but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Conflict and Peace Do Not Lightly Co-exist
In those celebrated times when Christmas is celebrated during a war, with both sides observing a cease-fire, each knows conflict is only hours away. More often the “peace” is not peace at all; it is merely a lull in hostilities.
In much the same way, Satan exploits our natural tendency to selfishness. Conflict comes and peace flees. Worry, anxiety and frustration are all fruits of conflict.
But, do you notice anything? Those are not the fruit of the Spirit. Those would be love, joy, longsuffering, faith and peace. Where there is conflict, the fruit of the Spirit is gone because the Spirit has been quenched. We cannot pretend to embrace the “peace of God that passes all understanding” while in conflict.
Turmoil, fighting, conflict, hatred, bitterness and the rest are not signs of the Kingdom.
It is significant that Jesus, in His most well known address, “The Sermon on the Mount,” specifically mentions those who make peace: “The peacemakers are blessed, for they will be called the sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). This means those of us not involved in conflict have a responsibility to assist those who are. In this, we reflect the people for whom the Prince of Peace gave His life and promises His peace.
Yours for the Great Commission,
Ronnie W. FloydSenior Pastor, Cross Church Northwest Arkansas General Editor, Bible Studies for Life
Today ronniefloyd.com welcomes guest writer Drew Griffin. Griffin serves as Cross Church’s Church Planting Apprentice. In August 2013, Griffin and his wife, Emily, will relocate to New York City to ignite the launch of a church plant in New York City’s Upper East Side. Follow Griffin on Twitter at @dg_nyc and on his blog, The Implanted Word.
Why I Love America
We live in an evil era. There is no doubt about this. One cursory look across the landscape of culture and media confirms that our world lies under the domain of the evil one. It could be argued that from Jesus’ very ascension into heaven Christians have been living in what the Apostle Paul would have described as “the last days.” Many days during this last year have given the Christian much reason for pause and concern.
For many American Christians, amid the cultural chaos and the moral decline, it has become increasingly difficult to love America.
But I look at the landscape of America and still find much to appreciate and even more to be grateful for.
Nations are not accidents; they are examples of God’s providence and protection. In Romans 13, the Apostle Paul informs us that God raises up governments and that individuals in power are His instruments to administer justice. When we reflect on what God has given us in and through America, we have particular cause to be thankful. Consider these four characteristics woven into the fabric of the American experience.
America is unique in that it is one of the only nations in the world where one can become ‘an American’ regardless of where you’re from or who you are. Everyone here is from somewhere else. We identify an American not simply in terms of legal status, but also as a way of life, a set of ideals, principles, and habits. I was an American long before I was a Christian; and I was taught how to be an American — how to identify with something greater than myself. I cannot look back on my experience of learning what it means to be an American and not draw a parallel to my experience of learning what it means to be a Christian. God in His grace and mercy gave me the gift of salvation. Since the day I became a citizen of God’s Kingdom, I have learned the way of life, principles, and habits that mark a Christian’s life. As a believer, my identity is in Christ. As an American my identity is rooted in a common history. I love America because being an American has taught me the value of an identity.
I still remember as a child watching the footage of distant wars and going to parades to see the full regalia of American might on parade. I was filled with awe and an overwhelming sense of feeling protected. Although that sense of protection has been tried at times, most notably on 9/11, I am grateful that our nation rarely takes the sword in vain. In this too, America serves as but a shadow for the protection my Lord provides. When our nation fails in its role to protect, and when justice remains unsatisfied, I know that ultimately there is One who will never leave nor forsake His own, and no one will ever be able to pluck me from His hand. I love America because I know in some small way how it feels to be protected, so many in this world only dream of this gift.
I have had the occasion to visit Arlington national cemetery in Washington D.C. a number of times. I even had the opportunity to lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknowns, which commemorates all those who have fallen anonymously in service to their country. It is impossible not to be moved when one stands amid the fields of marble headstones in Arlington. Though the tombs are silent, the cry of their sacrifice is deafening. Those brave Americans who have given the last best measure of their lives so that I might enjoy mine deserve veneration and respect. They model the selfless love of the One who came before them, who died so that all might live. I love America for the witness of many who willingly sacrificed their life for the lives of others. Whether they realized it or not, their lives and their gift of life pointed to Christ and His sacrifice.
America has often been referred to as an experiment, a temporary trial of new ideals and bold freedoms. This nation was not simply born; it has and continues to be reborn. Through great sacrifice and difficulty America came into being, and ever since it has been a haven for potential. The very air that we breathe is scented with possibility. For many years people from all over the globe have crawled and scraped just to take a gasp. We are an unfinished project, an incomplete structure, and we know it. Our founders recognized that they were not the pinnacles of human achievement; they gave us the tools to improve our lot and better our culture. Those same tools have been used for both good and ill, but their mere existence should give the Christian hope. As Christians we should realize that we are also unfinished works, being renewed day by day in the Spirit of God. I love America because it is a land of rebirth and second chances; and as such it points to the grace of God who desires all to be born again and whose limitless love stands open to embrace the faithful and prodigal alike.