“All you need is love.” – John Lennon
“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“Peace begins with a smile…” – Mother Teresa
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” – Nan
The world is striving for some level of love and peace. You don’t have to be a Christian to notice or experience that truth. Christian love, however, has another component – holiness.
In order to grow as believers, we have to choose the path of discipline. Discipline takes hard work, dedication and, most importantly, loving support from fellow believers.
When describing that loving support, the Hebrews writer put it this way:
“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14, ESV).
Christian love requires two things: PEACE and HOLINESS.
With political conversations on the rise (ie. the Trump and Hillary saga), social debates (ie. abortion and gender issues) and otherwise challenging days, the desire for love and peace has never been greater.
I love talking with people about these current issues. How we respond to them will determine if we really want to pursue both PEACE and HOLINESS. Yes, these topics can seem much bigger than our personal contexts, but they affect us all in our journey of discipline and growth.
Quite often we attempt to pursue peace in terms of what we think is right and forget about holiness (what God defines as right). And in the middle of these controversial moments, we have to react and respond as we live in this tension.
So, can we pursue both peace and holiness effectively?
We talk about peace in many contexts. We want world peace. We want freedom of religion. We want freedom of speech. We want…well, you can fill in the blank.
We usually understand peace to be a “peace at any cost.” “The price for peace is never too great,” some would say. Where does this leave us? At war. It leaves us pursuing personal peace, and causing dissention somewhere else.
Christian peace, isn’t a peace “at all costs.” Christian peace is only within the limits of what is right and holy.1
Holiness is being set apart to pursue God’s spiritual agenda for us. When pursing love, this is the difference between being a believer and an unbeliever.
Sometimes it’s difficult to see the difference between a Christian pursing peace and love and everyone else doing the same. The Hebrews writer couldn’t be clearer here. Jesus is seen when we match our striving for peace with holiness.
I think it’s also fair to say, that if we don’t pair them together, Jesus isn’t seen.
No matter the circumstances we find ourselves in, when we engage with others, we have to make sure we react and respond with PEACE and HOLINESS. That’s what Christian love looks like.
So what should we do? This is a balance that will look quite different for each situation, but maybe these guidelines will help.
- Choose personal discipline
There’s no way we’ll be able to balance peace and holiness in the moments of life’s chaos if we’re not already on the journey of growth (Hebrews 12:3-13).
- Exchange shoes
Sometimes we blind ourselves by our own opinions. When attempting to love each other, put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It might be a cliché, but I think it’s key if we actually want to understand the tension (Hebrews 12:14).
- Actively Love
Love is not just a feeling, it’s an action. It’s not good enough to passively understand Christian love; we have to actively engage in it. That means we can’t simply say, “I feel bad…” we have to take action and embody peace and holiness (Hebrews 12:15).
As Jesus said;
“…everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).
How have you seen peace and holiness at work? How do you work through that tension? Comment below with an example…
|⇑1||Donald Guthrie, Hebrews, TNTC (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1986), 257.|