Church of Christ
Mission USA

 

Peace Is To Be Desired, But Never At The Expense Of Truth!
 
By Perry Sexton
 
      It is hard to imagine anyone not desiring peace, yet there are those that seem determined to bring about strife. Is it not for selfish reasons? There are many examples for our learning. Consider: "And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle: …" (Gen. 13:7). The land could not sustain all the herds. But in such cases, peaceful solutions can be found. No need for strife! Our great example of faith suggested such a peaceful solution: "Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left" (v.9). What a great example of unselfishness. Have we learned it? Abraham’s attitude was: "Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren" (v.8).
 
      When strife arose among the apostles of Christ concerning "which of them should be accounted the greatest" (Luke 22:24), our Lord taught a valuable lesson for us all: humility (v.25ff cp. Matt. 18:4). Surely humility is a great deterrent of strife. To help us "grow in the grace, and knowledge of our Lord" (II Pet. 3:18) we have many treasured statements such as Paul gave: "Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up," (I Cor. 13:4). Yet "pride of life" (I John 2:16) is hard to overcome! A mere knowing what to do is not the doing of it – like so many things. But we can overcome and we must.
 
      "God of peace" is mentioned five times in the New Testament (e.g., Rom 15:33) and multitudes of verses throughout the Bible showing that our Father is of such nature. As His offspring, so must we be peace seeking people. There is much admonition from the Father for His children to seek peace: "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." (Phil 2:3); "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." (Mat 5:9); "Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Eph 4:3); etc. Of course unity and peace (true peace) go hand in hand (see the Greek definitions of both words). Amos emphasized: "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3).
      Yet some brethren are attempting to do that which is impossible in truth: walking together with those whom they should not. Is not "agreeing to disagree" the same as we have condemned in the denominations, only they call it "unity in diversity"? "Agreeing to disagree" does not make a matter or a relationship right! Nor is it "Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph 4:3). We should diligently seek true unity for which Jesus prayed (John 17:20) and shun the weakening fragmented "unity" which Paul condemned: "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (I Cor. 1:10). This is accomplished by putting off the pride which keeps one from admitting sin and error; and seek the whole truth with all honesty; talking, studying, reasoning together. (For a long time I have thought that this should be what "preachers meetings" should be about.) I have found many will not do this. Because we justify ourselves and one another is no assurance that we are justified by God (cp. Luke 16:15)! Surely there are many among us today who cry: "Peace, peace; when there is no peace" (cp. Jer. 6:14): no true peace!
 
      Some, perhaps, from the guise of seeking peace and unity, turn a blind eye to sin and error among us! This is not our Father's will! If God is our true Father we are not of the spirit of Cain (Gen. 4:9). We are our "brother’s keeper" (Cp. James 5:19, 20; Matt. 18:15ff; Gal. 6:1; Heb. 12:11, 12; Jude 22, 23, etc.). Brethren, if we love God we will seek peace and unity God's way: We will rebuke those that sin "that they may be sound in the faith" (Titus 1:13 cp. I Tim. 5:20). We will exercise church discipline from a heart of pure love; that includes withdrawal of fellowship when necessary (II Thess. 3:6; I Cor. 5:11, etc.) and marking of false teachers among us (Romans 16:17).
 
      Think it not strange, however, if some deride you for wholly walking in God's way. Some will backbite, call you names to your face and strive to discredit you in every way possible. Do we not have the faithful before us as proof (Heb. 11:36, etc.) and remember the words of our Lord: "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. {12} Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you" (Mat 5:11-12). Was not the great prophet of God, Elijah, counted as a "trouble maker" among God's people (I Kings 18:17 cp. Acts 16:20; 17:6)? Do you think you will be counted any less when you "Stand Up For Jesus" by refuting the unauthorized practices and errors among us today? But what an honor it is to "suffer as a Christian" (I Pet. 4:16; Acts 5:41: Rom. 8:17, 18).
 
      Yes, peace and unity are greatly to be desired, but not at the cost of your soul! God does not want to lose you because you followed those into sin and error or compromised. Let us not forsake "the right way" (II Pet. 2:15) for any reason: for love of money, for love of family, or anyone or anything. It is not God’s way to sacrifice truth for peace and unity; however Satan would have you to believe that. Let us not be "ignorant of his devices" (II Cor. 2:11). We are to "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye [we] may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Eph 6:11). But if we give up some of that "amour," some truth, how shall we stand? By our own strength?!
 
      One of the great lessons we learn from Moses is that we should never compromise God’s word. Pharaoh was wanting Moses to leave the flocks and herds behind, but Moses' firm reply was: "there shall not an hoof be left behind" (Exod. 10:24-26). We must: "Hold fast the form of sound words" (II Tim. 1:13); we must hold to the pattern that God has given us through His Son (cp. Heb. 1:1, 2; 8:1ff); we must worship according to truth (John 4:24); we must have authority for all things (Col. 3:17) and we must remain faithful all the days of our lives (Heb. 3:6; Rev. 2:10).
 
      Walking in truth is not always peaceful. Indeed, keeping the faith is a war with many battles (II Tim. 4:7). Jude holds forth the banner: "earnestly contend for the faith" (Jude 3 cp. Prov. 28:4). When we hold to truth, we hold to God (John 12:48; 14:6; II John 9). We desire peace, we long for peace, but the true peace is waiting the faithful beyond the sunset. How beautiful it will be to be among those who walk "in white" (Rev. 3:4). True peace comes only by seeking and following after truth and among these it is as David said: "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" (Psa. 133:1). May it ever be so and "the God of love and peace shall be with you" (II Cor. 13:11). ♥