Thursday, February 24, 2005

Seek Peace and Pursue It!

fearing the LORD

“To the Jews who had believed in him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” To know the the truth of the Holy One's words, we must “do” as the Holy One does, by His grace!

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge ...”. David says: “Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord...” He then prescribes things for us to DO, confirming that knowing God is by experience.We grow in reverence for the Eternal by walking as Jesus walked, thereby tasting of his wisdom and love and suffering. The highest aspect of fearing the Eternal is: “seek peace and pursue it”! But David sings in Hebrew; the word for peace is shalom and its true meaning is richer than its English connotations.

In a Forerunner magazine article about peacemakers, John Ritenbaugh points out that what the Lord means by “peacemakers” in his sermon on the Mount is much more than current connotations of the English word ‘peace’ seem to indicate. To impart a fuller understanding of what the Word of God means by “peace” John quotes from William Barclay's Daily Bible Study Series, Volume 1, page 108:

“In Hebrew peace is never only a negative state; it never means only the absence of trouble; in Hebrew peace always means everything which makes for a man’s highest good. In the East when one man says to another, Salaam--which is the same word--he does not mean that he wishes for the other man only the absence of evil things; he wishes for the presence of all good things. In the Bible peace means not only freedom from all trouble; it means enjoyment of all good.”

In the light of this understanding “seek peace, pursue it” takes on the meaning that God intends rather than the poor substitute that too many settle for or even urge, mistakenly thinking ‘peace’ refers merely to the absence of active strife!

Regarding being ‘peacemakers’ Ritenbaugh notes: “Paul writes in Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Undoubtedly, Jesus did this, but it did not produce peace at that time.”

Any pilgrim who sets his or her heart on being a genuine ‘peacemaker’ in this present evil world will come to sing with feeling: “Too long have I lived among those who hate peace. I am for peace; but whenever I speak of it, they are for war”! The unseen spiritual powers of this present evil world are not interested in any person’s highest good and are bent on setting back anyone who seeks it!

Concerning the precept ‘seek peace and purse it’, John Ritenbaugh concludes: “far from being a simple task, complying with it will call upon our constant vigilance, self-control and earnest prayer.”

Genuine peace centers in agreement with God, who certainly wants everything that makes for every person’s highest good. Paul pleads with Christians at odds “to agree with each other in the Lord” -- the Lord’s will is our common ground! May each of us find the grace to seek and find out and as need be contend graciously for -- His will! When we speak and act with godly wisdom, the Eternal is pleased: “A wise son brings joy to his father”!

Ironically, pursuing genuine peace may well involve contending and confronting. It is entirely in the spirit of seeking shalom and pursuing it that Jude urges: “...contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints”! When Messiah comes to wage war, it will be seeking shalom and pursuing it! For good cause those called to be holy are likened to soldiers!

References:

John 8:31-32 NIV unless indicated otherwise.
Proverbs 1:7
Psalm 34:10
Psalm 34:14b
Matthew 5:9
Psalm 120:6-7 REB
Philippians 4:2
Proverbs 10:1b
Jude 3
Forerunner is the thought-provoking magazine of the Church of the Great God.

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