In this third installment of the mixed tape series, Greg shares his experience in growing in a non-violent world view during conflict. As followers of Jesus, we are called on to mimic our Lord and be peacemakers. We learn that being a peacemaker is not just doing activities that promote a lack of conflict, but it’s about rather putting our trust and whole source of worth and significance in the one who is peace, Jesus.
In a world of perpetual conflict, we as followers of Christ are called to be peacemakers. There seems to be constant conflict around us, in our personal lives as well as locally, nationally, and globally. In Ephesians 2 Paul is teaching that in reality Christ has already torn down all the walls of hostility. He tore down everything that divides us as human. In 1st century Jerusalem the major dividing wall as between Jews and gentiles. Paul is saying that by means of the cross Christ has created a new reality, a reconciled humanity. From his perspective this is all past tense – it’s already been accomplished.
In God’s reality Jesus Christ is the only true hope for the world. Jesus didn’t just do peaceful things, He is actually peace itself. In reality Jesus is already the peace between all conflicting parties. The most anyone can do without Christ is bring about a temporary cessation of conflict. To have true peace with a deep sense of well-being and reconciliation Jesus must be involved. This is true for police, politicians, and anyone else promising to bring peace. They may be very well meaning and do some very good things, but without Christ there is no true shalom.
We learn that as a follower of Christ the way to access this peace is to surrender our lives wholeheartedly to the one who is peace. We experience peace to the degree we put our trust in Him. So when we experience conflict we’re to keep our eyes fixed on the Prince of Peace. People can ignore it or reject it, but in the end peace wins. In the end peace will reign with one new humanity reigning with Christ.
No matter what type of conflict we’re in, the goal is to mimic our Lord who brought peace in an incarnational way. We are to have the same mindset as Christ who didn’t cling to the advantages He had as God, but rather emptied Himself of everything except perfect love. There are several ways in which we can learn from His example. The first is to make sure our identity is anchored in Him. All of our worth and significance comes from what God thinks about us and has spoken over us by His actions on the cross. I don’t need to look good, I don’t need to be right – “My life is in Christ, and nothing else matters.” We shouldn’t wait for conflict to start practicing this discipline.
Secondly we are to remember that those we’re in conflict with have unsurpassable worth and Jesus died from them on the cross too. This is our first job as a kingdom person is to agree with Jesus that they were worth Him dying for. Communicating others’ worth is always more important than winning an argument.
Lastly, in order to be peacemakers, we need to listen and validate. It’s not agreeing with another’s position, but rather respecting another person’s right to have a different perspective. We can’t listen and validate if we’re constantly trying to be right and put together what we’re going to say next in the conflict. We need to stop the chatter in our brains and listen. Jesus didn’t agree with a lot of the behavior of the people he was around, but he validated them and understood how they could have got to where they were at based on their experiences. Then through His love He helped bring them out of that way of life. So also we are to imitate Christ in our interactions with others.
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6 thoughts on “Mixtape: Ephesians 2:11-18”
“The choice is not between violence and nonviolence but between nonviolence and nonexistence.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
It’s been said that the closer we can come to embodying that practice in our present, the closer we will come to achieving that vision of the future! But there’s a subtle nuance here, in that certain ontologies of violence are woven so tightly into culture – i.e. “The right to bare arms” for example, that some people are simply unable to distinguish their identity from that paradigm – i.e. “I have a right to maintain peace; even if I have to kill for it!”
But once in Christ, “Our existence flows out from the one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live” – 1 Cor 8:6
Often political, ethnic and gender conflicts, intentionally popularized by the media, become like a giant “Shelob” looking to ensnare and entangle our lives and drain our energies away from Cruciform love. When sifting through the daily minutiae, it’s always important to remember Micah 6:8 – “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
I’ve heard Greg tell that “i broke through the fear, fought the schoolyard bully and won’ story before. In my experience, i was the one who did not have the confidence to win those battles; i remained cowering in fear and embarrassment. No one had ever taught me to fight or to stand up for myself and unlike Greg, violence did not come naturally. I’ve always believed that today, i would be a much different/better person had i been able to stand up for myself and at least try to win those fights. It is the case that, from the way i was reared, i was rather peace loving, though i was not taught Christian non-violence principles. As i got older i found ways to avoid being in those bully situations, all the while remaining in fear.
I’m convinced that had i stood up to the bully, as Greg did, the validation received from my peers and the confidence-boosting feelings from those victories, would have given me the leg up in life that i feel i’ve missed out on. Can’t live in the past but i do have to wonder.
I hear ya Kevin! You would not believe some of the crazy stories I could share growing up bullying, being bullied, fighting, etc. It’s a miracle I survived at all – Ha! But seriously though, those victories you’ve talked about missing, I think you should seriously give Christ Praise for, in that had you won every time and then potentially been over confident and arrogant, I think perhaps ones receptivity to the Gospel might have been more difficult – I know for certain mine would have been!
Acknowledging the fact that we need a Savior and that we can’t stand on and in our own strength, is perhaps the most courageous action of all that we can ever take!
I’ve run into and met up with some of those arrogant cocky guys from high school and after all these years, most are nowhere spiritually and financially – Still stuck projecting their “Tough Guy Machismo” – always looking for a tangle or confrontation to prove their worth to themselves. Sad really.
As you know (please forgive any condescension on my part) there’s a thin line between allowing yourself to be a victim and being enervative for Christ. God’s perfect omnibenevolent power is demonstrated in His weakness on The Cross for our sake and if we can model that self-sacrificial example, even in an imperfect sense, through the power of the Holy Spirit, then we are on the right track.
Thankful for the reminder that “My life is Christ. Nothing else matters” this week.
I came to this site today after another horrible day dealing with the nastiest, most manipulative woman I have ever had the misfortune to work with. My work life has been, at times, so unbearable that I wake up wanting to just not “be” anymore, my self-worth, self-esteem is just shot.
This sermon was exactly what I needed. I will listen to it a few more times this weekend before going back to work! 😉
Pastor Greg, the quote you shared “My life is hid in Christ and nothing else matters” has been a tremendous help to me personally. Thank you for sharing that.
I did not have the experience you did as a child, I was bullied and I gave up and did not fight back and lost a fight to a smaller bully that I should have really creamed if I had not given in to fear and cowardice.
That cowardice followed me all my life, even after I got saved until I grew in faith and stature as a Christian. What the Lord showed me about that experience was this: If I had won that fight I would have become overconfident and proud, so I would have resisted receiving Jesus as my Savior. My dad had a similar experience to yours Greg and he became a “self-made man” who although he did have faith in Jesus, never allowed Jesus to make him into the man he could have become.
Once I saw how God used this experience in my life to bring me to faith in Christ, it totally expelled the feeling that I was plagued with that I was a coward. Since then He has taken me to 7 different foreign mission fields, I have faced .50 caliber machine guns, had pistols waved in my face, passed out literally thousands of Gospel tracts on the streets of countries ruled by dictatorships that did not allow that. The Holy Spirit helped me conquer my fear, and believe me I was scared every single day I hit the streets with a pouch full of tracts to give out!
Pastor Greg, wow, thank You Jesus for the great message He give you!
In Jesus’ Name,