Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11 (NLT)
Paul closed his letter to the Corinthians with those words. As we are in our last chapter together on this topic of peace, allow me to echo his words. Think about what makes the Lord of love and peace feel welcome among us. Paul tells us to live in harmony and peace as we encourage each other. He tells us to be joyful and to grow to maturity.
Mature people are joyful and hopeful regardless of circumstances. They choose to live up, instead of down. They lift others, even as the Lord lifts them. They decide to live harmoniously and at peace with each other. They know that our differences are divinely orchestrated. Each one can make their unique contribution and have value in the Body of Christ.
United Worship: A Fragrant Offering Ascending To The Heavens. (Acrylics on canvas by Iann Schonken, 2014)
It is a mature approach to see that people are different from us and still celebrate and encourage them. How often do we lose our peace with others because we insist that they do as we prefer? Know this: If they are designed differently, they will also do things differently:
The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, ‘I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,’ that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, ‘I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,’ would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’ The head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you.’ In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:12–27 (NLT)
We can get to a place where we are no longer offended when someone is different from us in perspective or function. We can be at peace knowing that there is more than enough opportunity for each one of us to make a beautiful contribution to the Kingdom of God. When we mature in this knowledge, we can live in harmony and peace. The Lord of love and peace will be welcomed in our midst.
Let’s choose joy. Let’s choose harmony and peace. Let’s encourage others regardless of how different they are from us. Let’s welcome the Lord of love and peace in a community of ever-increasing love and peace. As a result, you will be peaceful and joyful as you engage in the life-long art of peace!
- Choose joy.
- Choose to mature in your thinking about others.
- Encourage others.
- Live in harmony and peace.
- Welcome the Lord of Peace in your every day.
- Engage daily in the life-long art of peace!
Excerpted from The Art of Peace: 21 Days To A More Peaceful You by Iann Schonken: