A Word On Peacemaking

Among the many aspects of the blessed, Jesus highlighted that peacemakers are blessed by being referred to as sons of God.

It’s interesting that this aspect of the blessed is not always emphasised. It still seems as though I can go looking for God to bless me and restore me and all that other good stuff, with little in the way of taking responsibility for anything. Whilst thinking on it over the last week or so, it occurred to me there was a good reason why this isn’t emphasised.

People love the prize of peace – they’re just not interested in paying the price.

In an entitlement and consumer culture the prize that looks glittering is something that we want as soon as possible. We also want to get it with the minimum of fuss. If you present peace in a particular way, it certainly appears glittering. The life at peace where everything is functioning in a harmonious way bringing out the best in each other for the good of all. Peace depicted as nothing broken or malfunctioning and everything fitting as it should.  It’s a beautiful picture.

The price for that is to give up your pride, look to the interests of others first, be prepared to extend mercy and forgiveness to those who hurt you and bless those who oppose you and be quick to seek the forgiveness of others when you err. The price for that peace is to acknowledge your own faults and failings and rather than justifying them or defending yourself leave yourself at the mercies of the other and particular of God. The price is to see the good in others and seek to encourage that even at the worst of times.

The price seems a lot until you recognise what Jesus did to bring about peace. the price He paid was significantly more than we are ever asked to pay. In it He gives a model of the price we should be paying to see peace made in our lives. It’s a price we are able to pay as we submit to Him, but even that is a bit too much for some of us who are so self-absorbed that the thought of someone else ruling is terrifying.

That is why the best place to start in being a peacemaker is to acknowledge the complete inadequacy in our beings to make the peace that lasts and the peace that matters. Not the peace that the world offers with treaties and accords and summits. Not the peace that is cheaply portrayed as a life of no effort. Oh no, the peace on offer here is the richest, purest and most exhilarating peace available. This peace surpasses human understanding but can still find itself as a part of the human experience.

It’s heartbreaking for me to hear of relations in certain communities of grace never flourishing because we allow offence to shut down others. We know gossip expertly, but know nothing about peacemaking. We know bitterness like a pro, but we know nothing about peacemaking. Despite being recipients and beneficiaries of peace, we carry on as though we are yet to get that revelation.

I suggest we need that kind of understanding. We need it to be able to see the prize for its worth and be so committed to it that we will put in place the actions God requires of us to to truly be His children.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

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What Kind Of Man Are You? In Pursuit Of Peace

Peace or pride.

Among other terms of reference for Jesus is the Prince of Peace. This is helpful for those who follow Him as He went on to say that those who are peacemakers are likewise referred to as sons of God. Peace is a big deal to God.

The responsibility of man to look after the earth specifically by subduing it was to bring it to order, not let it get wild and loose and to best utilise the resources that would bring out the best in creation. He was called to make peace in the garden as its keeper. Enjoying and sustaining the wholeness experienced in the garden was the first call to be a peacemaker. Messing that up inevitably called for greater works of peace to take place. Not only were there the natural order to keep in check, now mankind had problems with themselves, namely their tendency to wreck peace.

You have heard it said that religion has caused a lot of wars. A lot of what’s wrong in the world is placed at the doorstep of the various religions and faiths that have cropped up over the years. There’s good reason for that claim too as people declare the need to go on conquests and crusades because that’s what God told them to do. It’s a useful construct until its dismantled.

When it is dismantled, the truth of the matter is that wars have happened because men have not craved for peace. Men may have used religion as a vehicle, but history shows that they just needed to have something in them to make them feel superior to the other. Men have just needed that feeling of being better than the other and slighted by the fact that the other person is around.

The same issue that caused man to tear away from fruitful and peaceful life with God is the same issue that causes man to see his neighbour as the enemy who needs to be conquered or crushed. It stems simple from pride.

Jesus lived a life free from pride because of His complete dependence on God. That made Him the best example possible of a peacemaker. Unsurprisingly, though, when men without peace saw a man living in peace and bringing it to others, that only evoked that sense of a threat and desire to wipe Him out. They crucified Him. They went onto to kill others who were a threat to the status quo by their desire to believe the Man of peace and usher in that peace in their actions in the world.

Peacemakers are a threat to pride.

They are a threat because they see the way of God is not seen by self-exaltation, but by everything and everyone being nourished and nurtured to blossom in their own way. The peacemaker in looking for the wellbeing of the other and not the self is a threat to the mentality that idolises the self above all things. The peacemaker in seeing that wholeness is the harmony and submissive interplay of all creation is a danger to the one that wants everything to be revolved around self-gratification.

Yet this peace is unstoppable. Even though they crucified the Prince of Peace, He rose triumphantly from the grave. Even though they shed the blood of the followers of this Prince, the blood merely inspired others to see the blessing in pursuing this peace. When Stephen asked God not to hold the sin against those stoning him, the gesture of peace and forgiveness in contrast to the violent brutality of apparent men of God was noted by one condoning the stoning. So when Saul of Tarsus became the Apostle Paul that act of peacemaking among others may have influenced his own instruction to Timothy to make the pursuit of peace a dominating priority.

The pride in man does not want to pay the price for peace. The Prince of Peace not only was delighted to pay the price, His invitation to demolish pride is a gateway to establishing a peace that surpasses all understanding. Embracing this truth makes the pursuit of this peace a must for men who truly want to live up to that standard of real manhood set for them by the King of Glory who took on flesh and lived with us.

To see a world of peace requires the ongoing death to pride. This is a price worth paying to see what Jesus indicated in His many acts of peacemaking – a world where the Kingdom of heaven is seen on the earth ushered in by those who make peace.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

It’s All In Your Head

It’s worth mentioning that this blog isn’t always that concerned to keep up with current affairs. If there are special occasions and events of one sort or another, I don’t feel obliged to mention them. So it is just one of those things that this entry so happens to happen on the same day as World Mental Health Day.

I am currently reading the autobiography of the former footballer and current football pundit, Ian Wright. Known for being a bubbly and chirpy character, so it was interesting coming across this quote.

In general, you’ve got a society in which men put up barriers around themselves and won’t even admit to being depressed, let alone talk about.

A Life in Football, Ian Wright: My Autobiography

He wasn’t writing about himself, more about the culture he was in where especially among professional footballers there were many barriers to talking about depression. It’s not that culture alone, though, that suffers from that problem.

There is a sense in which followers of Jesus shouldn’t be depressed or suffer from similarly debilitating mental illnesses. In certain Christian circles it’s almost as though you’re not Christian enough or don’t have enough faith if you are depressed. This obviously doesn’t help anyone, so those who suffer will tend to do so in silence, whilst being told all the time to rejoice in the Lord always and again he said rejoice.

There are cultural expectations of what it is to be a man both in church circles and the world that makes no room for ‘weakness’. There is little acceptance for vulnerability and so things like depression and feelings of inadequacy and even suicidal thoughts are not talked about openly and so barely addressed.

That is not to deny that in some cases there are some very real spiritual issues going on that need to be addressed and there may be a plethora of factors that contribute to a person’s perspective on themselves and subsequent seasons of doubt and despair. Even here, though, it would be great to know that there is a community who loves and cares and is capable to offer either effective support in themselves or signpost you to where to get the support you need. The kind of community that makes it easier to be vulnerable and share those tough times. The kind of support network that appreciates that there aren’t always quick fix solutions to these issues and just because one person is supernaturally healed immediately it doesn’t mean everyone should be or indeed will be. The kind of community that seeks to understand and then be sensitive in a proper compassionate response that is not about belittling the situation and the individual, but endeavouring to help them out even by just being a loving presence.

Men get depressed. Men of God get depressed. It happens. It’s a reality and to dismiss it or seek to avoid it is only building up for greater trouble at some point down the line. Not only is there a need for awareness, there is a need to shed light on what can be done to show love in deed to those who are going through.

As someone who has experienced a number of very dark times of the soul, I can agree with the casual dismissive comment that it’s all in your head. That is correct. That is where it is. It is really there and as long as it is there life cannot continue as others want it to be. Saying that it’s there does little to change anything other than the level of irritation that’s felt about such a disrespectful and negligent remark. Now that it is there, what can be done about it? What can you do to make a difference?

I am able to write this here and now today, because there were good people around me who exercised great patience and grace as I walked through some tortuous seasons. It can be a struggle sometimes, but to have people to support and feed love in situations like that is worth so much in itself.

Trusting God and believing in Him is to believe that He wants us to be whole and on the journey there we can walk with others and compassionately and sensitively seek to understand them.  Even when we cannot, we can at least learn how to love in word and in deed as these times of life proceed.

Perhaps being a part of the community that is intentional about giving people the space and environment to be able to share these things will be a step in the right direction. Ensuring that men and women can feel free to be vulnerable, unsure and afraid can be tremendously helpful as initial steps on what might be a journey that lasts for a lifetime. Yet with love inside shared on the outside at least it will be a life-time and a life-time full of love at that.

It might be all in the head, but what can we do to see the head-space full of darkness, and bring a little light to it?

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

On The Run: Running For Your Life

What’s with this On The Run series of posts, Christopher? Are you dodging someone? Have the authorities caught up with you?

There was a bit of what the Apostle Paul said to his son in the faith, Timothy, that made me stop and pay close attention to it and myself.

There is something about this advice that acknowledges something about the human condition. We are prone to run for two reasons. We run away from something we seek to avoid and we will chase something we desperately desire.

The advice Paul gives, however, is counter-intuitive. Evil desires of youth – not always what we perceive them to be and sometimes seen as rites of passage, sowing your seed, feeling your oats, part of what growing up is all about. With their association to youth there is that stage of life where you are working out things for yourself and seeking to establish your own identity. Taking instruction isn’t always a welcome activity especially if it challenges urges that others tell you are fine to explore and express however you want.

Paul can encourage Timothy in this way, however, because they have lived life together and Timothy has seen at close quarters how the gospel of Jesus Christ radically transforms and enables you to follow Jesus. Not only has Timothy seen it, but he knows from experience what it is to live that way. He knows what it is to pursue – chase after – those godly virtues that mark out a followers of Christ from someone who is just a fan.

It’s not just about running away from sin, it’s recognising the great worth of righteousness, faith, love and peace and as a result looking to gain that which you value over everything else. As you make it your ultimate pursuit it’s something worth leaving everything for and running after it.

No. I am not dodging any authorities or the like. I have a renewed desire to run for my life. Running in pursuit of righteousness is running for my life. Running in pursuit of faith is running for my life. Running in pursuit of love is running for my life. Running in pursuit of peace is running for my life.

That run should be something that keeps running and not just for me …

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Psalm 149 – Call To Praise … And … 

Here’s a good Psalm to pay attention to carefully. 

Reasons to praise God? Sure, they are there and offer strong encouragement for the readers to remember how great God is and what He does for His people. It’s all going well and then … 

“Two-edged swords … execute vengeance … punishments … bind with fetters … judgment … ” One or two folks pick up words like that and get to thinking of bloodthirsty and violent religion again. Giving permission for folks to get happy putting people forcefully in their place. 

This misses the point of the Psalm. Misses it quite significantly. Honour on God’s people is for those who are keen to see put in action godly justice. Godly justice that deals with those who oppress others and give licence to iniquity and inequity subjecting others to misery. How this is done is always lead by God Himself. Indeed how this is practiced properly is always lead and shown by God. That’s why praise is the basis for activities of justice. 

Praise reminds us that we are subject to the ultimate authority who rules wisely and with fairness, especially to the meek and humble who put their trust in Him. That’s not a bloodthirsty solution, that’s a peacemaking practice in line with the Word of God. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 144 – For The Coming Peace 


I am a huge fan of this Psalm. 

Everything in this is building up to the glorious time of peace – real, true, lasting peace. Peace as evidenced by the removal of crime and the threat of evil. Peace as evidenced by the flourishing of the offspring and a fruitful and prosperous land wherein that offspring can flourish. The picture of peace depicted in itself is breathtaking. 

The means of reaching that peace is even more epic. In as much as the Psalmist is prepared for conflict, he knows the victory is only accomplished by God Himself establishing it. Peace that lasts and is meaningful comes when God intervenes to establish once and for all that it is not the wicked who prevail. It is not injustice that wins. It is not the greedy that are blessed. When He fights the battle, it is one that is thoroughly won not out of taking glory in violence, but in taking joy in the rule of a glorious God ushering true peace in our time. 

That’s something worth singing a new song about. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 133 – Brothers United

It is a beautiful thing to see. Brothers together in harmony. 

I love it when I see it. Brothers in a band making beautiful music that blesses others because they compliment each other so well. Brothers in a football team playing for each other as much without possession as with it, spurring each other onto victory. Brothers on a community project together impacting the lives of children, older people, the disengaged, the neglected, the powerless with practical help and support. 

Brothers on a mission together to do life together and be there for each other in every season of life. Not out for selfish ambition, but in it for mutual edification. Open to rebuke and compliment. Able to acknowledge their frailties and inconsistencies without condemnation or reprisal. 

That’s worthy of praising and advocating. It’s no wonder this kind of life in harmony is something God blesses. It’s Him all over. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden