Prepare for Peace
As followers of Christ, we live in a broken, fast-changing world, one where Christians are a shrinking minority. This world is hostile; it challenges and rejects our value and belief system and attacks the Christian community.
I live as a minority Christian in my community—the impoverished, inner city of Toledo. I have been shocked, repulsed, angry, and indignant at times, even hopeless. I have not always been gracious or gentle when confronted by other beliefs. I am also a minority in mainstream America. My son has recently experienced “world” shock, returning to in-person schooling this year at a private boy’s school. He said to me, “I am shocked at the lack of supervision in the halls, mom. I have never heard so much bad language. These kids are weird, mom. They talk about weird stuff.”
I found out later the weird stuff they talk about. Yes, the world is different than we are; yet we must get along in it. I must teach him how to be a foreigner in his homeland. What then should we do as Christians? How can we rise up?
Your first thoughts may be voting, changing laws, telling the world what we think as Christians by marching. I would propose something radical—what if we prepared for peace instead of preparing for war?
The story of Abigail shows us a lesson in preparing for peace with dignity and grace. As the story goes, our hero, Abigail, is married to a foolish and harsh man named Nabal. Nabal has rashly offended the new king, David, who is now planning retribution in which Abigail and the entire household will be in peril.
“Abigail acted quickly. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs and loaded them on donkeys.Then she told her servants, ‘Go on ahead; I’ll follow you.’ But she did not tell her husband Nabal.
As she came riding her donkey into a mountain ravine, there were David and his men descending toward her, and she met them.” –Samuel 25:18–20
Abigail took her enemy dinner and rode in on her donkey as a savior for her household to an incoming army. She did not prepare for war, but she did prepare for peace. Abigail exhibited dignity and grace with ultimate trust in her God. She lived in a home lorded by a harsh and foolish master, a sojourner in her own home. With dignity and grace, she strove for peacemaking and keeping while faithful to God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” –Matthew 5:9
We can rise up with dignity and grace as peacemakers. Let us as Christians be a minority group that shows dignity and grace when facing the armies of the world. Who will bring bread to the workplace, the family, and the schools? Let us eat with those coming against us, with the unwavering trust that Abigail had.
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.” –Philippians 2:14–16
Obedience: The Lifesaving Discipline
When I read the account of Noah in Genesis chapter 6, it parallels with what I see in society today. Verse 11 describes a world that is corrupt and full of violence. As a result of sin, God decides to destroy all living creatures. In all this chaos and confusion, we can begin to feel invisible. We become defeated and lose our zeal when we see the wicked prosper.
The account of Noah reminds us of the faithfulness of the Lord. It reminds us that our job is not to look outward but to look upward. Our job is to keep our eyes focused on God and to be obedient to His call on our lives. The Lord gave Noah the difficult task of building the ark. Year after year Noah built the ark according to the specifications given to him by God. The Lord was very specific in his directions for building the ark, just as he is specific in the directions that He has given us.
Like Noah, it is our duty to keep our eyes focused on God’s plan for our lives. Verse 9 provides insight into the character of Noah. We learn that he is blameless and righteous and that he walks in close fellowship with God. He doesn’t allow the distractions of the world to penetrate his life. As a result of his obedience, the Lord rescues Noah and his family from the calamity that is to come. Noah’s obedience didn’t just impact him. The favor from the Lord extended to his wife, his sons, and his son’s wives.
The Lord is faithful through generations; He will not forget our obedience. Verse 22 concludes by saying, “So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.” Can the same be said of our own lives? Are we submitting to the will of God despite the inclinations of our own sinful natures? This is something to consider as we mature and grow in the love and knowledge of Christ.
“Obedience is not measured by our ability to obey laws and principles; obedience is measured by our response to God’s voice.” –Bill Johnson
Pray Without Ceasing
In reading the Book of Nehemiah, we are shown what a man of prayer he was and how much he loved the land of his ancestors. When the news of the demise of Judah and that the remnant of people that were there were in trouble reached him, he wept, mourned, and fasted. Then what did he do? He prayed. He cried out to the Lord, repenting for what the Israelites had done. He then asked God if He remembered what He had told Moses about the exiled. He ended his prayer for by saying, “Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man” (Neh. 1:11). Nehemiah was a cupbearer for the king.
Fast forward to chapter 2 verses 4–5, which says:
“The king said to me, ‘What is it you want?’
Then I prayed to the God of heaven,and I answered the king, ‘If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.’”
We read where Nehemiah approached King Artaxerxes and the king said, “What do you want?” Nehemiah knew at that moment that God had answered his first prayer and gave him favor with the king. So, what was his response? To pray again!
Nehemiah was a mighty man of prayer. He did nothing without praying first.
We should be mighty women of prayer. When we see Him granting us favor, pray again as we see Him working.
What are you praying for? What are you waiting on God for?
Me? I’m eagerly awaiting on the mighty healing hand of God to heal someone in my life. I can’t wait to see God work and witness the testimony that will come out of it.
The Woman at the Well
The woman at the well was a woman who was alone, who would do anything to feel loved by others, even things that were not accepted as common decency but that she thought would fulfill the longing in her heart to be seen.
She was a sinful woman that Jesus cared enough to reach out to, talk to, and see value in—to see her as worthy of His love.
And what did she do after her encounter with Jesus? She ran to tell others about the Man that knew all about her but loved her anyways.
I think we skip over how she dropped her water pitcher and ran to the people she was avoiding by getting water at the hottest time of the day. We skip over the courage it took for her to go to the people who represented judgement to share the freedom that had been extended to her.
What was it that made her such an impactful witness? John 4:39 says: “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.” I think it was the change in the woman, who went from avoiding people to rushing to them with joy. She was bursting to tell people about her experience, how Jesus had changed her, and they could see the change!
Who needs my story that I’m afraid to tell it to? Who needs your story to know the power of redemption, to know the grace Jesus offers? Who needs to see the change in your life as a witness to what grace can do? Do we need to drop our fear, our pride, our shame, and run to the people we avoid?
Now is the time to RISE UP, to be courageous and share what Jesus has done in our lives, even with the people we want to avoid who represent the parts of us that we’re ashamed of. Like the woman at the well, our stories are powerful, and people need them. Now is the time to RISE UP and maybe even run to the people who have hurt us, to tell them how Jesus offers freedom from pain and shame.
Who in our lives needs to hear our testimonies? Who needs to see the change Jesus has caused in our lives? Rise up, ladies. Tell people about the man who knows every part of you and offers freedom. Tell people about the love and peace they can have. Tell them your story.