In my last submission I shared some introductory principles that I hoped would ground this second part of the discussion on loving the hard way. It is important that we are reminded that God is not far off from our struggle to love like He loves. He did not give the instruction to watch with excited anticipation our failure. In fact, it is His Spirit that allows us to even have the ability to love in a way that reflects God. In this article I would simply like to share some insights I have garnered along the way that have pointed to the bigger picture of the necessity to love like He loves. Additionally, I would just like to underscore the beauty of His instructions and how He enables us to tread the rocky terrain of interpersonal relationships that can be strenuous and unpeaceful.
In this day and age, many have become obsessed with defending their peace. Peace is an incredibly important value, but if we are to be sincere it is often selfishness guised as self-care, or the refusal to be longsuffering in the cloak of setting healthy boundaries. Please hear my heart on the matter, as it is in no way my intention to belittle the need for such things. However, from my observations I have seen a glorification of self-preservation and aggrandizement. This is a tricky path to maneuver, but I think it starts with honest conversations with the Lord, who is faithful and gracious to point out areas that are indeed toxic traits of people pleasing and areas where we are in reality being selfish.
God of Peace
We serve a God of peace and His shalom is an incredibly telling part of His nature. We see through the Scriptures God being described as the God of peace and this is a loaded idea because it does not only refer to the absence of war, but it speaks to a picture of wholeness or completion. In view of the brokenness that is pervasive in our fallen world we see God displaying Himself as peace by sending Jesus, the Prince of Peace. In Jesus, we are now at peace with the Father, in Him too we have the capacity to be at peace with others. So, in our searching for inner peace and order particularly in our relationships we cannot exclude the author and embodiment of peace. We are often clouded by our painfully minute definitions of peace. In our human efforts to restore shalom we often do so without consulting the one who specializes in bringing order from chaos and does so quite often by “unconventional” means.
Gospel of peace
Now, primarily when we see through Scripture the gospel of peace it is referring to the powerful working of the gospel to reconcile us to God, that is to make us no longer at odds with Him. In Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” An amazing reality that has amazing resultants and directives. If we are to be messengers of God’s good news of reconciliation, we need to believe that His intention was the restoration of all things, including interpersonal conflict. We are exhorted frequently in Scripture to ensure we are living in peace with one another. So, as carriers of the Gospel of peace we must be displaying its transformative power even in our human interactions.
In Jesus’s famous sermon on the mount, He paints a picture of what the people in His Kingdom should look like, detailing attributes that are not commonplace for those outside of His domain. Not only do we get to partner with our Saviour in reconciling people to Himself, but we also get to join in the rewarding and satisfying work of announcing the beautiful ways of His Kingdom. In Matthew chapter 5 verse 9 Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” In God’s kingdom those who pursue reconciliation first between God and man and then between man and man will be called God’s children. These instructions for peacemaking and loving each other are keys for how people will know we are from the Kingdom. In John chapter 13 verse 35 Jesus says, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Therefore, our pursuit of harmony and love in our relationships are ways we can magnify the ways of the Kingdom and be branded as ambassadors
So, when next you find yourself in interpersonal conflicts, I implore you to first remember that God’s instructions to love is not an impossible task as His Spirit bears the fruit of love and peace in us. Additionally, gaze at the big picture of the gospel and how it is God’s desire that everything be marked with His Shalom. Finally remember the beauty of the task we have been given to carry this message of peace and how much our adherence to the beautiful ways of the Kingdom proclaim the power of the gospel.
Jhonelle is a Jesus enthusiast and Christian youth leader. She’s a lover of all things related to discipleship and a freelance writer.