Monday, October 25, 2010

Peace: Absence of conflict?

I have been doing some reading recently for an upcoming teaching in the book of Philippians. Specifically Chapter 4:10-19. What a cool book!
I was struck by the thought and meditation of what it really means to have peace in ALL circumstances. I mean, isn’t that contrary to what the world tells us?
The only way we have joy and peace in our heart is if we have everything going right for us and things are going our way in all circumstances then we really have something to be happy about….right? That is what I grew up believing and understanding. I truly believed that the only way I can have peace in my life is to have no conflicts in my life.
So, I spent most of my life trying to avoid conflict as that only makes things bad and not fun to deal with. I believed that I could not possibly have peace if I was in the middle of a storm in my life. That is really a big lie that many of us grow up believing. So what do we do? We run from our problems and hide from them. We just as well ignore the problem, the strained relationship, the situation in our job etc, etc. We might as well act like it is not there and it will eventually go away. Wrong.
It has been said, we cannot make a problem go away by saying it is not there. That is so true. As I have grown in Christ I have embraced this idea of facing conflict more directly. Now, I still have my moments where in the flesh I want t to run and hide but as a whole I have grown much in this area.
I am finding that when I deal with my conflicts directly and swiftly, I am healthier as a man and can face the next conflict even easier.
I am learning that true peace is not the absence of conflict but rather the presence of Righteousness. That Righteousness being the person of Jesus Christ. I am learning that He is big enough for all my problems not just the ones I feel like I can’t handle.
Paul reminds us in Chapter 4 that if we will NOT leave Him out of the equation in all situations, He truly will replenish us. Verse 19 of the fourth chapter says “and my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in the glory by Christ Jesus.” Notice He did not say “want”.
When my tank gets empty; if I invite Him into my everyday life, good or bad, He restores me to health. I am learning that if I am doing things right, His eyes are on me. This has nothing to do with good or bad times.
True happiness and peace comes from a daily seeking of our Lord and Savior. That is why it is so critical to stay in His word. He is the only one that can give us the wisdom, strength and courage to face every day’s battles.
In order to keep that peace in our heart even in the bad times is to do as Paul says in verse 12, “I know how to be abased (humble), and I know how to abound, (to have plenty). Everywhere and in ALL things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”
Wow! Did you hear that? To be full and yet still be hungry. I need to fill up on His wisdom daily thru the reading of His word, mediation, and prayer. That is the very essence of the Beatitude Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” To gorge and yet still be hungry for more.
How is your appetite these days? Are you filling up on the wrong things? When I physically eat junk food, I have no room for the nutritious food I need to keep moving the direction I need to. In the same way, I have to fill myself up on Him and continue that hunger for more in my walk.
Paul finish verse 13 with “I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me”
Great word to hold in our hearts as we face today’s challenges. The next time you have a conflict, embrace it. Don’t hide from it. Face it head on in love, grace and mercy and you will grow thru that experience. He is big enough to pull you thru it. it is thru the conflicts that we grow so much.
True peace is the presence of righteousness in the midst of the conflict. Keep your eyes on Him and He will guide you thru it.

Rodney Holmstrom
Celebrate Recovery Ministry Leader.
Fellowship Bible Church NW Arkansas

For more information about Celebrate Recovery, contact Rodney at 479-659-3679 or roholmstrom@fellowshipnwa.org

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