"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you…" John 14:27
"Can't we all just get along?" That was the question posed by Rodney King following the LA Riots in 1992 and it seems to still be the yearning in all of us. It is, at its core, a quest for peace. In spite of humanity's best efforts – peace summits and peace rallies and peace prizes - we are decidedly NOT at peace. As our church launches The Year of the Book in 2018, I find the Bible delivers in that quest. It is the story of God's plan to redeem and save the world through Christ, His plan to usher in lasting, eternal peace. It goes back to Noah in Genesis 9 when, following the great flood, God put a rainbow in the sky and said, "From here on out, I'll always see the rainbow as a sign of my promise to RE-MEMBER you - a promise that the storms of life will never prevail again.." Thus, the rainbow is a sign of God's PEACE. It is a bow pointed AWAY from us, not at us. The just consequences of sin are now provided by the One who demands them. God took our punishment on Himself, and thus opened the path of peace to us eternally, reconciling us to God through Christ (Colossians 1:19-20). The key is found in the word remember, meaning "to make something a member again." Our desire to go our own way removed us from the heart of God, but now that Christ has taken our due, God has made us members of His heart – His presence – again, never to be cut off. The storms of sin and death – the storms of life – will not prevail, but remember: without the storm – the tears – there's no rainbow. The light of Christ shines through them, refracting through our storms and tears, to produce the rainbow – the very beauty and glory of God. So, the next time you see a rainbow – in the sky or maybe on a Skittles commercial – see it for what it is: a sign of God's path to peace for us and this world through the shed blood of Christ.
"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18 "The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates
As always, the New Year leads people to moments of reflection and introspection as well it should. What I find, however, is that we spend far less time thinking about what's going on in us and far more time musing about what's wrong with others. Thus, we lack self-awareness. Jesus was quite frank about it in Luke 6 when he called his followers "hypocrites." Why? They were spending all their time working on the "speck" in the eye of their brother while ignoring the telephone pole in their own. Jesus was saying there is something pervasively wrong with you that impacts every dimension of your life, but all you want to do is talk about what's wrong with your brother. We're pulling the wool over our own eyes. People, there's a plank in our eye and we all have to deal with it. We can't be a good friend or love another well until we first deal with our own heart. The word in Greek means "the load bearing beam to a house." Until we deal with the beam, we will always be trying to cover the nagging sense that something is deeply wrong in us. And that beam is sin – our quest to be our own god. Freedom comes when we realize that God in Christ dealt with our beam…by dying on it. Only when we realize that we are eternally loved by God, warts and all, will we be able to humbly love and serve others regarding the specks which pain them.