I’ve always loved the exhortations Paul gives in his letters, I think, because I’m a “doer.” If you give me something to “do” I feel like I’m actually making a difference. I think this is a good thing–most of the time, unless, of course, I’m told to do something that I can’t do.
For instance, if I’m called to encourage a hurting friend or host and serve a house full of guests. I’m on it. But, to walk like Jesus…well…not so much. Yes, my desire is there. You could say that I am even willing to do what is commanded of me; but, there are many times when I just can’t. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he is straight-forward and concise. Another thing I love about Paul’s language: there’s no guessing. But, his expectations are unrealistic…without the power of the Holy Spirit working in me.
So, I’m learning to call upon the Spirit of the Lord moment by moment. It’s necessary. Without Him we can do NO thing! I’m learning that my humility isn’t so humble and my gentleness is quite rough around the edges. My patience is a little thin in spots and my “putting up” with others in love…well, too often it is not so Christ-like. But, I’m learning. And I’m growing. Because of Jesus.
Then there’s the challenge to maintain the unity of the Spirit through peace–a long-term course for me (let’s just say “life-long”). I’ve always thought this verse meant, “Don’t cause trouble”…”Don’t say anything to make anyone uncomfortable”, or “Always be sweet, non-confrontational and agreeable.” For certain, this is in contrast to how Jesus lived. He wasn’t brutally beaten and crucified on the cross for being sweet and agreeable. He came here to testify to the Truth and His radical message of redemption through repentance was raw and cutting…clothed with love and hope and compassion. Repent and be saved! Make peace with God!
The peace He spoke of is not what I’ve always understood it to be. I think the peace that Jesus spoke of is forgiveness.
What if Ephesians 4:3 read, “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace forgiveness”?
When I think about being forgiven I maintain deep peace. When my husband forgives me for being harsh, I am filled with peace. When my Father in Heaven forgives my sins, I drown in the peace of His Grace. And when I forgive someone who has hurt me I feel peace…just simple, yet incomprehensible, peace.
So, I think this: peace with God and others is always about forgiveness.
And this is how to walk like the Prince of Peace: forgive as He has forgiven me. Through the power of God that works in me! Praise the LORD!
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
2 Corinthians 9:8
by Dana Lange