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Peace Maker or Peace Breaker

A preacher's story reminds us of the need for unity of message and mission among God's people. A man was attempting to move a large couch. As he struggled to get it through a doorway, it became stuck. Try as he might, he couldn't budge it, so he called his neighbor for assistance. The two men strained until they were left huffing and puffing, almost exhausted, all to no avail. The couch was still stuck.

The owner of the couch finally said to the neighbor, "It's no use. We're never going to get this thing in." The neighbor jerked his head up and said, "Did you say, EY?" Sometimes people, even Christians, pull against each other instead of pulling together. Jesus promised to bless peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), but almost every congregation has a few who seem more bent on peace-breaking than peacemaking. Jesus taught us to love and pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44), but it may not be far-away enemies we find so hard to love. It may be that wretched man or woman on the other end of the church pew, or even closer to home, God forbid, that wretched man or woman across the kitchen table whom we find so obnoxious. If we all got really honest we would admit there are people in our lives who are easier to loathe than they are to love. For 35 years I have been intrigued by a statement from the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:2 where he wrote, "I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord." I wish we knew more about these two women (both feminine names), and I must admit to a stubborn curiosity that would like to know exactly what had happened between them. Was it something serious? Did they disagree over some vital teaching or a program that affected the whole church? Or was it (as has often proven true when there is disunity and disharmony) simply a personality clash and a matter of personal preference and opinion, something that in the long run didn't amount to a hill of beans? Whatever it was, the Holy Spirit did not see fit to reveal it. What mattered more than what had happened was that what had happened was threatening the peace and unity of the church. The apostle called on them publicly and in essence told them to get over it, settle their differences, and get together for the sake of the Lord and His church. Is there any chance he would call our name if he was writing today? Are there others at church I need to get with and come to the same mind in the Lord?

Ephesians 4:1-3 needs a careful and close reading. It addresses Christians who sit together on church pews and gather around the Lord's Supper every Sunday — "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." This passage reminds us that, as it concerns the Lord's will and work, Christians ought to get together. And stay together. If you are on the Lord's side and I am on the Lord's side, we are both on the same side. We ought to be peacemakers, not peace breakers.  "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14)

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ