Showing posts with label Peace. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Peace. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Wisdom to Know the Difference

Remember the ‘Serenity Prayer’? Alcoholics Anonymous used it all the time, and sometimes credited it to an early twentieth century theologian. Many 12-step programs were still using it as recently as 2022, despite the general disfavor into which all things religious have lately fallen. It goes like this:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

I’ve never been to AA, so I haven’t heard it in a while. There is probably a good reason. Wisdom is in pretty short supply these days.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Peace and God’s Will

In some situations peace and God’s will may be in conflict, as certain passages of scripture show. Jesus said, “I have not come to bring peace but a sword.” As a result of his advent households would necessarily be divided. Romans 12:18 teaches Christians to avoid provoking this conflict: “If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”

Other scriptures show that among believers peace and the will of God are complementary: “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity ... for there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.” Think too of the many exhortations in the New Testament that call for oneness of mind. In these cases the pursuit of peace will assist us in discovering God’s will.

The reverse is also true: in fulfilling the will of God we will enjoy true peace.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Rage, Rage …

I had a conversation with one of my brothers in Christ recently that left me a bit shaken and concerned, I must confess.

It was outside of a local church building. The man was speaking to me about the mask mandates and the distancing regulations that the church had implemented.

Suddenly, his eyes flashed with fire, and his words became tense and cruel: “These people,” he said, “These people who just think they can …” He went on with such fierceness that his wife had to put her hand gently on his arm, and say to me, “You see we feel strongly about this. Pray for us.” “Come along, dear.” And she pulled him away.

He was still in mid-rage, I could see, and there was much more he wanted to say.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Thought Experiment #4: The Serenity Prayer

Alcoholics Anonymous uses an abridged form of what is called the Serenity Prayer as part of its 12‑step program. There are different versions of the prayer, but the one most people are familiar with goes something like this: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I generally dislike trite formulations, but there is a certain biblical wisdom to this one, which should not surprise us given that the prayer is attributed to a 1930s theologian named Reinhold Niebuhr.

Also, it begins with the word “God”, always a good starting point.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Looking Past the Millennium

The so-called “Lord’s Prayer”, prayed by millions over centuries, includes the request that “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

That line is taken as mere aspiration by many and blithely ignored by many more. Lately it doesn’t get recited much in public at all. But the kingdom is coming, and it’s coming here. One wonders exactly how that will go over.

The millennial kingdom of Jesus Christ is a “must”, as G.B. Fyfe puts it.

Monday, December 25, 2017

What It’s All About

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate some surprising things. In my twenties, I finally “got” Shakespeare. How many people, like me, loathed him at first meeting, usually in high school? I guess there are some things you just have to be old enough to understand. And some people never do.

By my thirties, I suddenly found I had a feel for non-fiction reading. In my forties, I developed a taste for comparative religions and philosophy, then for apologetics. Now, in my fifties, I suddenly discover that some of the music styles of songsters more celebrated by my parents’ generation have started to speak to me with very strange poignancy. Again, I guess sometimes you just have to reach an age.

Lately, I’ve found myself strangely compelled by the work of Burt Bacharach.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Implementing the Peace Principle

Legally speaking, a conflict of interest is a situation in which a person owes a duty to more than one party, the execution of which duties are either incompatible or mutually exclusive. In other words, discharging one’s responsibility to the first party may result in negatively impacting or failing to discharge one’s responsibility to the second.

This is not a situation with which Christians are unfamiliar. Conflicts of interest are part of the package.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Three Kinds of Peace

Nick Lowe’s song (What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding? remains a staple in Elvis Costello’s live show more than forty years after Lowe penned it. Its simplicity and straightforwardness stand in sharp contrast to Costello’s ornate verbiage and characteristic cynicism, and yet the Lowe song often gets the strongest reaction of anything Costello performs. Why not? I mean, who could rightly disagree with the sentiment?

John Lennon famously urged us to Give Peace a Chance. If anyone suggested we Give War a Chance by way of response, it never got much radio airplay. There are times when men find compelling reasons to fight, but peace is usually preferable to bloodshed and death. Everyone agrees about that.

But peace means different things to different people.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Idolaters in the House

“Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
— Jeremiah 29:7, NIV

“Never seek their peace or prosperity …”
— Ezra 9:12, ESV

Two instructions: both from God, both to Israel. To the casual reader they may appear to be diametrically opposed, but they are not. The commands occur at very different times in Israel’s history under very different circumstances, and are issued with respect to very different groups of people.

The differences are instructive, I think.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Three Kinds of Peace

The most current version of this post is available here.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Conflicts of Interest vs. the Peace Principle

The most current version of this post is available here.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Anxiety and Slumber

“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”
(Psalm 127:1,2)
There is an aspect of life that will always remain outside of our control no matter how clever we are, no matter how well we plan, no matter how much experience we have.

Circumstances have a way of making idiots out of very smart people.