The God of Peace and the Peace of God

Deep disappointment, alienation, pride, and disagreement occur in relationships, but the God of peace is glorified with reconciliation.

Today’s Reading

Song of Solomon 4-5; Second Corinthians 13

Selected Verses

 I opened to my beloved,
but my beloved had turned and gone.
My soul failed me when he spoke.
I sought him, but found him not;
I called him, but he gave no answer.  Song of Solomon 5:6

Finally, brothers,  rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Second Corinthians 13:11

Reflections

Romantic love has its ups and downs, and Solomon paints that picture in his Song. Anyone who has ever been in love can relate to this: the exhilaration of the first glimpse of the one who steals your heart completely (4:9) and the agony of possible loss of that relationship forever (5:6). With all the benefits and risks involved, we feel these are risks worth taking, because God said on the sixth day of creation, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). So, most of us pursue a lifelong, loving relationship with a mate. Alas, it can be elusive.  When found, it is never without difficulties and setbacks. But it is pleasing to the God of love to find it, and to nurture it.

In the Church, Christians are called to live in love demonstrating true discipleship through a level of sacrificial love faintly reflecting that of Jesus Christ (John 13:34, 35). The Corinthian church of Paul’s day had plenty of challenges. They were divided.  Phony “super apostles” drew them away from the true faith. They were tolerant of gross sin in their midst. All this was unacceptable, but not fatal, to the fellowship. Paul instructed them in the two letters, which we still have, as to how to overcome these problems and be restored to a life of peace together. This is what God calls them to.

Think about it

All of us, believers, need one another in the context of the local church. We are called out to be His body and to work together for His glory. He is not glorified when sin is overlooked and tolerated and when there is division and competition that negates the message of reconciliation with God. That reconciliation with Him is the foundation for our reconciliation with one another. For us who are married in Christ, we also are called to model, on a human level, the relationship of Christ and His Church. The same commands and promises Paul gave the church in Corinth apply to us who are married. Seek to be such that the God of peace and the peace of God are always with you.

Contentment without Complacency

Mary and I call our little homestead in the Blue Ridge Mountains “Thistle Dew Farm” – it’s not heaven but this’ll do for now.   Contentment without complacency is our motto. The selection from today’s reading speaks to our need to learn to be at rest where God has put us.  The truth is we won’t experience all the joys of heaven until we enter our eternal home.  Meanwhile, we are called to serve zealously but contentedly.   The words of Anna L. Waring’s 1850 hymn[1] are fitting here:

Father, I know that all my life
Is portioned out for me,
And the changes that are sure to come
I do not fear to see;
But I ask Thee for a present mind
Intent on pleasing Thee.

So I ask Thee for daily strength,
To none that ask denied,
And a mind to blend with outward life
While keeping at Thy side;
Content to fill a little space,
If Thou be glorified.

There are briers besetting every path
That call for patient care;
There is a cross in every lot,
And an earnest need for prayer;
But a lowly heart that leans on Thee
Is happy anywhere.

In a service which Thy will appoints
There are no bonds for me;
For my inmost heart is taught “the truth”
That makes Thy children “free.”
And a life of self renouncing love
Is a life of liberty.

Today’s reading:  1 Corinthians 7:1-9:27

My selection: Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. 1 Corinthians 7:17

For more reflections on this passage, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days.

[1] For the full text and music go to http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/f/a/fatiknow.htm