Holiness and Peace
How do you live up to what seems to be an impossible standard? The Bible seems to be full of them! In our world of hate and conflict, in our world of evil and godlessness, how can we be holy and live at peace with everyone?
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14–15 (NIV)
At least we know that to fulfill this scripture it will take every effort to succeed! This verse urges us to do two things:
Live at peace with everyone!
This places the responsibility for living at peace squarely on our shoulders. It’s up to you. You can’t blame the other person. Of course, some people are harder to live in peace with than others.
When we are making every effort to live at peace it means we don’t escalate any sort of conflict or disagreement. It is easy to get embroiled in controversy and arguments but when we trying to live at peace we back away from these conversations and confrontations.
Learn to listen. Listening is one of the main weapons we can use to live at peace with people. To listen to their words, their hardships, their emotions, their circumstances will help us to de-escalate tense moments.
Seek to understand. This comes out of learning to listen. When we understand people, we are far more likely to be able to live at peace with them. Instead of pushing our agenda, we need to seek out understanding of those we disagree with. In our cultural climate today, we need every follower of Jesus to be actively living at peace with everyone!
The other part of this verse means we are to be set apart for God’s purposes. This presses upon us the urgency of examining our motives for what we do. Are we living for our purposes or the purposes of Jesus and his kingdom?
To be holy means to be purified for maximum usefulness and conformity to the image of God. This is a high calling but he is willing to purify our hearts by faith as we surrender to his leadership in our lives.
Holiness also means to be dedicated to his use. When we follow Jesus, he places a high demand on our time and energy. We are called to a greater good. When we are dedicated to his use, we find that we live the abundant life and change our world.
A holy life is a life fully engaged in his work. He needs workers in the marketplace, in our schools, in our churches, in our world! No matter what we may do to earn a living, we must become fully engaged in the work he has given us. Changing the world is our call and our responsibility. What is his work? For one thing — to live at peace with everyone. What a start!
When we live a holy life, people will see God in us. The world needs the love, peace, joy and glory of God. Our holy lives allow all these things to shine through and become transformation to all those around us!
How do we do this?
This is truly the most challenging question we can answer today. Again, he provides the answer in his word.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1–2 (NIV)
Here are four life changers for our holy and peaceful lives
Get rid of everything that hinders
There are many things that hinder our full involvement with the kingdom of God. Many good things can get in the way of the best that God wants for us. Take these three simple steps, guided by prayer, to get rid of everything that hinders:
First, we must identify those things. Ask God to reveal anything that is making it hard to follow Jesus. These things might be activities. Our lives are full of good things to do, great places to visit and wonderful people to share with. But when activities rule our lives, Jesus doesn’t!
Another thing we must examine with God’s help are our values. What is important to us. What is too important? Anything we value more than God must be reassessed!
Is our involvement with entertainment taking us away from following Jesus as we ought to? We have loads of entertainment options in our culture — lots of them are very good! But, are they removing us from service to the kingdom?
Our financial obligations can keep us from following as well! We must not be enslaved to house, car and credit card payments. We can’t be so obsessed with saving for the future that we shun our responsibilities to help those around us.
Second, we must surrender these things to God. We must be willing to give them up and we must thoroughly pray it through! This is the valley of decision for many people. It may take hours or days or weeks to pray this through. This is a time you must be truly devoted to obedience and responding to the leading of Jesus in your life.
Third, we must embrace the change. We have to allow God to lead us strongly, embrace the reality that we surrender these thing and then live it out!
Get rid of sin
This is clearly an idea that every follower of Jesus fully agrees with. We cannot follow Jesus while we still embrace sin. While it is still possible to sin, it is not necessary.
This means we must live a lifestyle of repentance. We must always be willing to allow God to change our minds — this is repentance. There is a call for us to live a lifestyle of surrender. We continually say yes to Jesus!
Run with perseverance
Our spiritual lives are a long hard run in the right direction! We must keep on doing the right thing. Perseverance means that there will be resistance. Understanding that life is a marathon will help us stay with it. Part of perseverance is embracing the idea of delayed gratification! This is definitely counter-cultural but it is biblically cultural! Jesus followers are looking forward to reward as we enjoy the deposit on our inheritance right here and now!
Fix your eyes on Jesus
Our focus means everything! Do this to keep your eyes on Jesus:
Worship — this puts God at the center and changes our outlook. We observe and marvel at who he is and are in awe of him!
Prayer— declares our dependence on him and helps us realize our utter weakness without his strength and power and guidance.
Bible reading — allows us to listen to God’s story. It allows us to peak into the mind of God and understand his will and how awesome he truly is.
Meditation — instead of worry, focus your mind on God and on the peace and joy he brings. Think about his promises and provision for your life.
Listening— when we carefully listen to God for voice and leadership, it becomes transformational. Hearing God’s voice is a powerful help in keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.
Obedience — when we hear his voice and do his will, it makes us more receptive to hear again! Obedience changes our path and allows us to walk closer to Jesus each day!
What do you do now?
Pray. Open up to God in prayer and commit to transparency and honesty.
Read these scriptures carefully and closely.
Pray again a prayer of commitment to obedience to Jesus’ leadership in your life.
Finally, share this with a friend! Let’s work together to become stronger followers of Jesus!