Think about this for a second: Do you want your children to grow up to be angry? I’m talking about out-of-control, self-centered, short-fused, “I’m gonna hurt somebody if I don’t get my way” kind of anger.
Of course not.
After all, you don’t have to look very hard in communities to see the damage that kind of anger can do. It’s the reason a lady used pepper spray at a Wal-Mart to ward off a crowd of mothers Christmas shopping. It’s the reason people lose it in traffic, or the reason the issue of bullying is escalating in schools everywhere.
The truth is there are a lot of people who are walking around angry. Somehow they grew up and missed a simple principle that is critical to life. Peace.
Peace is part of God’s character and what Jesus came to do for us. God wants us to reflect peace in our relationships with others. We define peace like this: proving you care more about each other than about winning an argument.
It’s interesting that peace almost always requires some type of sacrifice. I can almost guarantee there will be a time in every relationship when you will have to give up something you care about to make peace. Peace will cost you something.
When sin entered God’s magnificent paradise, our relationship with Him was broken. God’s love for us was so great that He was willing to sacrifice to restore the relationship. God proved He cared about peace when He sent His Son to pay for our sins.
Peace is more than just “not fighting” and saying the right things to keep people happy. Peace is living in a way that shows you care more about others than about being right. It’s about building strong relationships through mutual trust.
Working at those relationships is hard work. It will cost us something. It will take time, swallowing our pride, and often will mean walking away from the chance to prove we’re “right.” That’s why we start by getting everyone to memorize something Paul said in the book of Romans. “So let us do all we can to live in peace. And let us work hard to build each other up,” (Romans 14:19, NIrV)
Think about the significance of that phrase. Paul is challenging us to do all we can to live in peace. He stresses how important it is for us to do everything in our power to build a bridge—to fix what is broken—between us and someone else.
Now, let’s talk about some stories that illustrate how and why we should “do all we can to live in peace.”
We’ll start the month with the best example of peace, Jesus’ death and resurrection. Easter is the perfect time of year to talk about peace. In Colossians 1:20 and 3:15, we find out that us that peace originated with God’s love for us and Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Since we can receive such peace from God, we can live peacefully with other people. Bottom Line: When God sent us Jesus, He proved He cared for us. Our ultimate example of peace is Christ. Because He made peace between God and us, we should strive to let peace rule in our own hearts and lives.
On April 11/12th, we’ll take a closer look at some verses in Genesis 26. Isaac settles in his father’s land and reopens some wells. For years no one had cared about the wells until they were reopened, then everyone started fighting over them. Instead of fighting, Isaac decided to give away the wells in order to make peace. Isaac simply walked away from what was rightfully his. Because of his act, the people changed their opinion about Isaac, and decided to trust him. Bottom Line: prove you care about others by walking away from a fight. Sometimes creating peace with someone means walking away even if we’re not wrong. Often it takes a stronger person to have the self-control to walk away.
Then On April 18/19th, we’ll head to Genesis 27 and hear the story of two brothers: Jacob and Esau. When Jacob stole Esau’s birthright and blessing, Esau was furious. Years later, the brothers meet again and this time Esau lets go of his anger and chooses to love his brother. Bottom Line: prove you care about others by letting go of “what’s fair.” Sometimes choosing peace means letting go of what we want or think we deserve. Preserving the relationship is more important that protecting our own sense of fairness.
We’ll finish out the month in 1 Samuel 25:1-35. King David became angry with a man who treated his soldiers wrong. David wanted to get revenge, until the man’s wife, Abigail, intercepted him with gifts to make peace and apologizes. Her initiative stopped something that would have been horrible. Even though she was not responsible for the offense, she realized she could play a role in making peace. Bottom Line: prove you care about others by being part of the solution. Peace is sometimes about stopping an argument before it can escalate into something worse. Creating peace between two other people will take time and energy.
Each of these stories illustrates what it means to pursue peace. Sometimes you have to know when to walk away. Sometimes you have to be willing to give up something. Sometimes you have to get involved if you want to be a peacemaker. The point is, when you make peace, you make others understand that they matter more than the argument or more than things.
Let’s help kids grow up and learn to do whatever they can do to fix what’s wrong between them and someone else. Let’s help them learn to make peace a priority in their lives.
~The Children’s Ministry Team @ Mountainview