Peace is so wonderful because it is so rare. Even in the relatively prosperous western world, many people live troubled, disturbed lives. Often, the problem is not conflict on the outside, but turmoil within. The only solution is God’s peace process.
So far, we have learned the following steps to God’s peace process:
1. Pre-requisite to peace: Make a decision not to allow your heart to be troubled or afraid, because Jesus is sending His peace to you (John 14:27).
2. Peace established: When you say ‘Yes’ to the gospel, you have reconciliation and peace with God (Romans 5:1).
3. Protective, prevailing peace: God’s peace is like the body guard that keeps your heart and mind safe in Christ (Philippians 4:6-7).
The good news is that there is even more to this peace process. Yet in order to appreciate the good news, we need to understand the bad news first.
Bad news: Often, people complain about being ‘hurt.’ The wounds go down very deep and can last a lifetime. The reality is that ‘hurt’ people are often offended people. And often offended people possess a spirit of un-forgiveness, which causes them to be hurt in the first place.
Proverbs 18:19 (KJV): A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.
While some cultures, particularly in Asia, take offence with a flourish, it is a dangerous thing to do. It is even unhealthy physically, as well as emotionally and spiritually. When a person takes offence, it is as like building a ‘Berlin Wall’ around themselves. It becomes a self-imposed prison. As long as the offence is kept, the bondage remains, the hurt grows, and the spiritual life put on hold. You become bitter rather than better. God’s peace process is derailed as long as the person remains in a state of offence and un-forgiveness.
Another way to describe offence is ‘stumbling’ (Proverbs 4:19). To be offended is like walking on a pathway, only to stumble, fall down, bruise the knee or even break a leg. One has to choose whether to stay down, remain offended, and be a victim, or get up and be a victor.
Remember, this is a fallen world: bad things happen to good people and good things (temporarily) happen to bad people. Jesus says in Luke 17:1-2 (KJV): “Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! 2) It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.”
Being difficult, demanding, and offensive may give a person a temporary rush of energy, get people to fulfil their demands quickly, or even make them feel ‘powerful.’ Yet that millstone is coming their way and the bottom of the sea gets closer and closer.
The best philosophy: Do not be offensive and do not take offence.
Here is another way to look at it is this: An offensive person is one with plenty of issues - that’s why they are offensive. And they want to spread the misery around. If you take offence, then their problem becomes yours, too. If you remain on God’s peace process, you will have a built in ‘teflon-factor’ that keeps the spirit of the offence from infecting your spirit.
Offences will happen - people can be rude, nasty, and vicious (e.g. the culture war). Yet there is a way to leverage off offensive behaviour so that it becomes the catalyst for promotion, rather than the trip-wire for demotion. So, to progress with God’s peace process, you have to deal with the spirit of offence.
GOOD NEWS: Two-Pronged Remedy Against Offence:
1. Forgiveness: So how to we go from a state of hurt and un- forgiveness to a place of victory? First, we need to practice unilateral forgiveness. Even if the offender does not apologise or even recognise their error, it is important to ‘let go’ and ‘forgive.’ Forgiveness is Christianity 101! Ask for God’s grace to do this. Here is an incentive - Jesus says in Mark 11:25-26: “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26) But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
Some may say: You don’t understand; I have been greatly wronged. Nobody who has lived long enough misses out on the insults, indignities, rejection, misunderstanding, and injustice of this fallen world. Many become bitter but a few become better. The reason is forgiveness or the lack thereof. If you make a decision to forgive - and you should - let the grace of God see you through. Remember, Jesus forgave His enemies while being nailed to the cross!
What forgiveness does is it releases you from the spirit of offence, demolishes the ‘Berlin Wall’ around your life, cuts the octopus tentacles that the offence wrapped around you, releases you from bondage and you are set free! You are now able to get on with your life.
2. The Word of God: The role of God’s Word in overcoming offence and proceeding with the peace process is indispensable. A wonderful promise is found in the longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119, which is primarily about the word of God.
“Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them” — Psalm 119:165 (KJV)
Note that when you ‘love’ God’s law, meaning, the whole counsel of God, something amazing happens. It detoxes you from offence, causes you to grow spiritually, and bestows ‘great peace.’ How does this happen? Just as any child will properly grow when eating good food and drinking pure drink, so the child of God also grows when they have a regular intake of God’s Word. As they grow and mature, the things that once upset them they now have peace about.
If you want great peace, then ‘love God’s law’:
1. Read it;
2. Study it;
3. Meditate on it;
4. Do it!
Through forgiveness and God’s Word, you will no longer stranded in the wilderness. Instead, you will mount of with eagles wings and head towards the promised land.
Next time, we will learn about the fifth and final part of God’s peace process.