What an honor to be asked to share with you, what I have learned from the Scriptures and teachings this week in our bible study!
While I won’t pretend to have any sort of special wisdom, I’d like to share a couple thoughts about the “Shoes of Peace” with you that God has been teaching me this week.
Peace is one of those things that seems unattainable.
We live in a world that is filled to overflowing with distractions, hostility, fighting, disagreements, anxiety, stress, chaos, discontentment – the list could go on and on. Even as I write to you right now, I feel those anxieties as I gear up for the end of the school year with my students. It’s impossible to escape the chaos of life while we live on this earth. However, it is possible to have peace even in the midst of chaos.
We have peace with God through the sanctifying blood of Jesus Christ and therefore have the Spirit of God dwelling in us and bringing us a peace that surpasses understanding. It is a gift from a loving father. Here are some things that God has revealed to me about this peace on my journey through this week’s study:
- The Enemy is Crafty
The enemy is looking to hit us where it hurts, and he is good at finding our weak spots. Just this week I came to the realization that this enemy had found one of mine. Priscilla Shirer talks about our areas of weakness, like the Roman soldiers going to battle, as we walk across the rocky terrain of this world. I’ve found that not only do I need to identify the areas of weakness, but areas where I don’t feel weak – places I feel I have control.
To give you an example from my own life, I teach elementary music in the Troy School District. During my first year of teaching, my principal described what she called the “Libby Calm”. This was my tendency to approach students in a way that was entirely calm and collected, no matter what their behavior was like. I grew confident in my ability to “maintain my calm”, to be peaceful in the midst of the storm. Now in my third year, I discovered that the confidence that came with knowing I could do it caused me to weaken my defenses. My guard was down, when my most difficult student yet walked into my room. This student, let’s call him Timmy, is difficult in so many ways – always challenging and arguing, refusing to work, distracting his classmates and seeking attention at inappropriate times. He shook my confidence. He rattled my calm. The enemy was looking to steal my peace, and for a while it worked. I dreaded the days when I taught Timmy’s class. My anxiety spiked right before I saw him walk around the corner. I was snippy with him and the other students.
I was so thankful for the reminder from Priscilla that my peace does not come from this world or my own doing, but from my relationship with God. This student still tried my patience, but when God’s peace permeates my heart, soul, and mind, I was able to approach him and his classmates in a way that built them up. While Timmy’s behavior didn’t change, something in my heart had. With God’s peace on my side, my impatience turned to patience. My anxiety turned to calm.
- God’s Peace brings Unity to the Church
Unity. This is a big, trendy word that we often throw about.
I think, especially in the church (not just Oakwood but the church across the world) we have forgotten what Paul really meant by the word “unity”. There are so many different things that threaten unity in our churches today – hurt feelings, differing opinions, conflicting interpretations of Scripture, differing preferences on worship style, etc. It’s easy to get wrapped up in these things, especially when we feel strongly about them one way or another.
Here’s the thing, though: unity in the church does not mean we have to agree with one another.
Plain and simple. It’s okay if I like to sing hymns and you like contemporary music. It’s okay if this person likes liturgical services and this person likes a more free-flowing service. It’s okay to disagree on even these “hot button issues” the world keeps telling us are so important. These things are not what is important. Like I said before, the enemy is crafty. He knows how to get under our skin, make us feel entitled to our opinions, our likes and dislikes, make us think that these things are important.
In Day 2 of our study this week, Priscilla Shirer points to Ephesians 4:1-16 that speaks to unity in the church.
Verse 3 tells us that we have been called to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” – the unity of the Holy Spirit that dwells within God’s chosen people. Verses 4-8 go on to say “There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
As you go through this week’s study, be reminded that we are one Church – working together with unique gifts and talents, for the building up of one another in unity and peace. May the peace of Christ be with you this week.
With love from your sister in Christ,