Today: Monday, December 09, 2019

Titus 5 - Called to 'be peaceable'    (2/8/2009 1)

‘Be peaceable' was the fifth thing the apostle Paul said to the church at Crete, in his letter Titus [NT]. So it's the fifth piece of advice we're looking at as we go into a new year.

It seems like such a nice, obvious thing to say: it'd be easy to gloss over Paul's words without really considering them.

But note that Paul didn't say ‘be at peace'—a sort of passive state—he said be peaceable. That's a proactive thing, which means “free from conflict; inclined to avoid war.”

Perhaps Paul was speaking into a community which was split by conflict. But how many communities—whether a nation, a town or a group of friends or colleagues—escape conflict on some level? Probably none. And Paul is calling Christians, now as then, to do something about it.

Nowadays, many conflicts are on a scale which seem frightening. What can one person do about the fighting in Gaza and Israel; about Russia invading Georgia; about genocides like Rwanda?

Even on a smaller scale, it can be dangerous to intervene. In Britain, the news too regularly reports stories of people attacked and killed when trying to help a victim on the street. And perhaps standing up to a victim of bullying in the workplace could jeopardise our career.

So it's easier to turn away and ‘not see' small-scale conflicts; to imagine there's nothing we can do about larger ones. But that's not what the Bible calls us to do. While it doesn't tell us to wade in with our sleeves rolled up, it does say—over and over again—“Be peaceable.”

Being a Christian demands more than simply having a faith. Social justice is a big part of what Jesus was about, and Christians should try to reflect his ministry in what they say and do. God gave us a brain, as well as a spirit and a heart—and we're required to use all of them, in a carefully balanced way. Thinking laterally and locally, and taking a longer-term approach, can be one way in which Christians can add to what politicians and the UN, for example, may be doing. Did you know that Amnesty International was started by a church?

Christians can pray about war, but more can be done. How about ensuring our children take an interest in current affairs and history—so the next generation can understand the world, and be better equipped to speak and act? While our goal is to be humanitarian, rather than political, we can ask our own governments to intervene: by contacting our representatives, by demonstrating, by signing petitions.

We must judge on an individual basis whether intervening with a gang of youths on the street could put our own lives at risk. But we can look at the bigger picture: perhaps we can ask why gangs of youths are on the street—and do volunteer work with youth groups or young offenders? So often those who offend have little else in their lives which is meaningful, to distract them from violence. We can't solve everything, but if each of us helped one such young person, that would really add up to something.

In 2009, let's all prayerfully work at being peaceable. There's always something we can do!

Pray: Lord God, how you must weep for what goes on in the world. You allowed us free will, and so we do this to ourselves. Show me how I can make a difference in your name: help me to speak out, and to act, in the right way and at the right time. I long to be peaceable. Amen.

Think about: Many people say that the world would be more peaceful without religion. But is that really true? Anywhere between 20 and 60 million died under Communist Stalin. Hitler's SS killed up to 14 million, aside from the casualties of WW2. About 25% of Cambodia's population died under Pol Pot. It is true that awful clashes can arise as a result of religious divide, and atrocities have been committed. But this is to do with human nature, not God's nature. And so often 'religious' conflicts are really political issues dressed up as religion - such as in Northern Ireland.

Challenge: Think of one conflict, either local to you and your situation or on a world scale, and promise yourself and God that you're going to do something about it. Commit yourself throughout 2009 to being peacable on that issue.

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