Summary: Let us recommit ourselves to experiencing the peace of God in our lives and in our fellowship.
The God of Peace, II Corinthians 13:11-14
I know a man who not long ago gave his heart to Christ, and has since lived a very happy Christian, who for a long time prior to his conversion had been so eaten up by care and anxiety that he had been ill-natured on account of it.
His religion had the happy effect of healing not only his mind and heart, but his body as well. When he became happy in the consciousness of the forgiveness of his sins and rejoiced in peace with God, his mind was at rest.
He quit worrying. He did not fret any more. He slept well, had a good appetite, and digested his food without difficulty. He had a friend who was an unbeliever, who did not believe in the Bible or in Christ, but who was also ill-natured.
They had been accustomed to meet and lunch together in a restaurant. When the skeptic saw that his friend’s temper was gone, he was anxious to know what had cured him.
And when he was told, with a happy, sincere face behind it, that it was the joyous heart that had come to him through Jesus Christ, you may be sure that it aroused that man’s attention as a thousand sermons from the pulpit never could have done, and the skeptic was glad to go with his Christian friend to hear the message which had so transformed him.
The greatest evidence of Christianity is a transformed life. The greatest sermon ever preached is an object lesson in Christian faith – the one which is lived out in the concreteness of our actions – not that which is talked about with our words.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote that “one act of obedience is better than one hundred sermons.” It has been well stated that action speak louder than words.
We serve a God of peace and our lives ought to reflect that peace. The peace of God should be plainly evident in our personal conduct, in our interaction with our families, in our church conduct, and in every other area of our lives.
What do the actions of our lives say about the kind of God we serve? If the story of our lives and our church were only told by our deeds, would the story reflect a god of division, disunity, and strife or the true and Living God of peace?
Today’s Scripture is found in II Corinthians 13:11-14 where the Apostle Paul writes, “Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.
This passage of Scripture is the concluding paragraph in a letter which the Apostle Paul wrote to the church which he had started and fostered in the City of Corinth approximately three years before the writing of II Corinthians.
While this letter has doctrinal content, it is primarily the work of a man of God who had poured out his life into the church which he founded. Remember that in those days – as in some parts of the world today – when an evangelist came to town he was spreading what was previously a completely unheard message.
He lived among people and shared the gospel of Christ with them. He gave his testimony to them but I suspect that it was largely the light of Christ which was evident in him that ultimately attracted people to the Gospel.
If we are honest, is it true that the same could be said of us? In verse 11 Paul tells the church of Corinth – and us – to be like minded and live in peace. But very often our churches are not like minded and we do not live in peace.
Unity within the body of Christ often seems like little more than a lofty Christian ideal which is seldom realized. The Church is broken and splintered into a thousand Denominations, Denominations are splintered into factions, and local churches are divided.
Unity – like mindedness – seems like the proverbial carrot always just out of the donkeys reach. Yet, is right to dismiss the possibility of genuine unity in our churches simply because it is not often realized? Does the validity of the idea of unity rest solely on our ability to bring it into being?
Or have we become so accustomed to mediocrity in our religious life that we gladly accept so much less than that to which we have been called? Have we, as the body of Christ, abandoned our call to unity in the name of expediency?