Recently we read the summaries from GMBA Campout, where one of the themes of the week was peace, using Philippians 4:7 as the basis. The peace of God surely does pass all understanding; it is the only true peace.
There are two ways we can pass it to others — by actions and by words.
In today's world, having conversations with people, real, deep conversations, is really tough. Usually, these types of discussions are about significant issues, and nowadays it's either you are one side or the other. Whether the topic be political, social, spiritual, etc., it seems like we cannot have a talk about our differences of opinion without it turning into a knockdown, drag-out fight. We, as a nation and as a society, need more peaceful discourse.
In recent years, there have been plenty of topics that seem to divide rather than bring together, with plenty of opinions expressed on the ends of the spectrum. In many cases, when the two ends of the spectrum collide, the results are typically negative, with some even resulting in violence. My question is, "What positive did either side take away?" No one was convinced that a change needed to be made; everyone just dug in deeper to their respective side. Could something constructive have come about if there was more listening, less talking or yelling, and more peace? I believe so.
We, as members of The Church, don't want to fall into these traps. There's nothing positive that can come from yelling and screaming, and it sure isn't peaceful. While we might find ourselves agreeing with a particular side, we need to be able to discuss a topic with someone who has an opposing opinion peacefully.
Jesus said we need to love one another, even as He loves us. He never got into a shouting match with those against Him. Most times, He answered opposition with short, sweet, and to-the-point responses. When we discuss the issues of the day, we need to remember to do it in love, listen to the other person, never accuse or name call, and never eternally judge.
I found myself in a situation like this when I was in college. There was a protest being held by a Christian organization where they were screaming, yelling, and damning people to hell for being gay. I sat down in my classroom where you could still hear all the commotion going on outside. Needless to say, this was the topic we were all discussing prior to class starting. Those that know me know that I'm pretty outspoken, and I was back then, too. So, it's not a shock that my classmates knew my faith. This included the young woman sitting in front of me. She turned around and point-blank asked me, "Am I going to hell for being gay?" Without hesitation, being inspired by the Holy Ghost, I answered her in a peaceful and loving way. "It's not my place to judge you," I said.
I told her scripture tells us that homosexuality is not the way God wants, and that eternal judgment is between each of us and God. Only He knows what an individual knows and believes, no one else. She said, "Thanks for being honest with me," and turned around. Since she was in the same year and major as me, we saw each other from time to time after that and were always peaceable with each other.
I only give this example since it was one that directly involved me. I'm sure many of you have similar eyewitness accounts or personal testimonies. These are the types of conversations we need more of in the world. We can disagree, but we can't be disagreeable. We can "agree to disagree" when necessary, especially when standing up for the precepts of God, but continue to be peaceful. I believe that's what Jesus wants from us. That's loving each other, and that's passing the peace of God.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.