The God of peace in the storm

Do you feel the weight of the world? I do. It’s been a bit of a spiritual heaviness and even, at times, depression. But we have a powerful place as believers in the stormy, chaotic world. A powerful place not because we are powerful, but because we serve a powerful God. And this particular post may confirm what some of you are feeling and challenge others of you where you are now. No matter where you are, we need to come to the issues of our culture with open Bibles and humble hearts. 

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

Matthew 5:9

Our world is on fire in many ways. Even people of faith are arguing and fighting. Maybe you’ve experienced this among your friends as well. With story after story of injustice, riots and unrest, my heart aches. How can we bring peace to this world? I think we are called to strongly hold on to the gospel and to live out that good news of Jesus before the world in such a way that the poor, oppressed and orphans are cared for by the church.

Hear what people are saying

Peacemaking is hard work, but it’s gospel work. It involves intentional listening. We need to be a people who truly listen to and hear what others are saying. Be slow to speak and quick to listen (James 1:19). When we listen to others in such a way that they feel heard, we forge a path that is needed. And we tend to learn where change is needed in our own lives. 

In talking with others about the racial issues through the last several years, but specifically the last several weeks, listening to what is being said has had a huge impact on me. In some ways, it’s confirmed what I’ve already known. And in other ways, it’s challenged me to live differently for the gospel’s sake. Do we see other people as equally valuable before God as we are? 

If we see others, regardless of skin tone, as valuable, then listening becomes easy. We need to listen to and encourage our black brothers and sisters in Christ. And when there is such an overwhelming consensus of hurt and prejudice being experienced, our listening ought to translate to action.

Live out the gospel

We need a biblical basis for our actions and what living out the gospel looks like. One injustice against a human being is too much. Did you catch that? Just one is too much. 

Consider this passage:

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt. 25:41–46).

Ouch! Eternal damnation is waiting for the kind of person who is not willing to care for those in need. Again, one injustice is too much. We shouldn’t be able to tolerate it with silent lips and hands. This isn’t to say that we should become so angry we fall into sinful responses nor that we simply detach emotionally altogether.

Should there be an uprising? Should we abolish the police? No. Should we speak up? Absolutely. We should revise laws. We should aggressively revise police standards and entrance into the police force. We should look at laws and judges of those laws. But if that’s all we do, then we are using a band-aid for a gut wound.

We need that, yes. But our nation needs more than just political and legal reform. Our nation is in deep need of Jesus. The church should be the best kind of peacemakers. We should be evangelizing the lost and caring for those in need so that men can be at peace with God. This is how people will be at peace with one another.

Please hear me. I’m saying the gospel demands we act in both loving compassion for the hurting through gospel witness, as well as seeking justice in our legal and political systems. To work for gospel advance and then never speak against the injustice in our culture isn’t Christlikeness. And to work for social reform without gospel-centered evangelism is a temporary fix at best.

So let’s be peacemakers of the highest kind. Let’s seek peace with God and peace with men. As we toil in the strength of God’s might for this, the lost world will know whose we are. They will see that we are true, genuine sons and daughters of God.

James Hammack is a regular contributor to The Rope. He also is digital services manager for The Alabama Baptist/TAB Media. He also serves as worship pastor at Sovereign Grace Church, Prattville. He and his wife, Alicia, have three children.


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