Spread Peace Around
- 2002 20 Jul
We can't avoid all conflicts. We can't make everyone like us. But from our end, we can live at peace with everyone. That's the great promise implied in these exhortations that form one of the great New Testament Ten Commandments. Difficult people don't have to dominate our lives.
How do we escape them? How do we escape our own difficulties that keep us tangled up with difficult people?
The New Testament presents us with a resource for conflict resolution, a way of disarming difficult people. It's called the peace of Christ. This is actually a powerful weapon that we don't often wield in a practical way.
A contemporary author wrote, "There is no such thing as inner peace. There in only nervousness and death." Jesus told his disciples, "In me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Christ's peace is something that overcomes the hassles of a world full of difficult people. It's greater than anything the world can give; it transcends human understanding. It can "rule in your hearts," acting as an arbiter within, resolving disputes. In other words, it's the one thing that can actually loosen the grip of pit bull.
Here's why. Christ's peace is based on his reconciling the whole world to himself when he spread out his arms on the cross. The sacrifice of Jesus creates an incredibly wide welcome into grace. Humanity is redefined. Artificial distinctions disappear. We are all one people from the perspective of Calvary.
Colossians explains that Christ's blood makes peace. Ephesians asserts that the cross reconciles groups that have nurtured hostility for generations: "His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace." And Corinthians affirms that, being compelled by the love of Christ, we are given a ministry of reconciliation, regarding "no one from a worldly point of view."
What is the point of view that the cross inspires? It's to look at every human being in terms of her need. Human beings need forgiveness. Human beings need grace. We all have to lay our mistakes, the things we cringe about, at the place where Jesus poured out his life.
Seeing people in terms of their needs - that's a Mustard Seed Secret. It's a life-changing promise.
Catch the tears behind the cool shades.
Spot the pain under the angry outburst.
Sense the fear inside the proud body language.
Find the lonely soul within the rude remarks.
Uncover the deep longing beneath the cutting wit.
See the panic under the iron grip.
Pick out the years of disappointment behind the awkward gesture.
Something amazing happens when we look through people to their needs. It's a powerful perspective that can disarm the difficult people in our lives. ...
Praying about someone else's needs can break an otherwise open-and-shut case of animosity. An enemy can't have needs any more than suspect can have alibis. As soon as they appear, the label disappears.
Why is Joe so obnoxious when he tries to get coworkers over to his "fabulous condo"? Because he desperately needs friends; he has no one close to give him feedback and develop his social skills.
Why is Sally so annoying when all she wants is for you to babysit her kids? Because she's desperately looking for someone to take care of her like her parents never did.
Why does Mike drive everyone nuts complaining about the betrayals of women? Because it's the only way he can release the anger that's about to consume him.
All of us are trying to have our needs met in some way. So many protracted battles would fade if we acknowledged that. We're all weak, sinful human beings in need of grace. So, instead of making every effort to coddle our resentments and rehearse our accusations, we can make every effort to live at peace. We're going to be expending emotional energy anyway; we might as well invest it in something that counts.
Acknowledging that people have needs, however, doesn't mean we have to rescue them. Part of the problem with difficult people is that they want to make us responsible for their misery. Conflicts are based on the premise, "You should be meeting my need and you're not doing it." Sometimes we fall for that line and get stuck in a relationship with a difficult person.
To disentangle, it helps to understand that everyone has to make his own peace - by taking his needs to Christ. Jesus' peace is the ultimate solution. Nothing else can compensate for that. When Paul was planning a visit to a church in Corinth torn by scandals and lawsuits, he vowed "to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."
Instead of trying to rescue difficult people, we can point them to the place where we all need to go. Everyone needs to start with grace.
Instead of fretting over the way "those people" are, come as you are.
Instead of being flabbergasted by failures, be amazed by grace.
Instead of blaming, confess.
Instead of controlling, be captured.
Instead of getting others to carry your burdens, lay them down.
Instead of pointing accusations, lift up empty hands.
Leave that chip on your shoulder with the one shouldering his own cross. We all need to follow him. It's only in the process of seeking to meet our needs in the peace of Christ that we can begin to help meet each other's needs.
Excerpted from Secrets of the Mustard Seed, copyright 2002 by Steven Mosley. Used by permission of NavPress, Colorado Springs, Co., www.navpress.com. All rights reserved. For copies of the book, call 1-800-366-7788.
Steven Mosley is an award-winning scriptwriter and producer for Christian television, and the author of ten books. He also conducts "Wield the Word" weekend seminars around the United States, featuring a dramatic presentation: "Chosen Garment - the Whole Bible in One Act." He and his wife Marilyn live in Huntington Beach, Ca.
How are you currently trying to deal with a difficult person in your life? What are some ways you can bring the peace of Christ into that relationship? How has spreading peace around helped you to minister well to others in everyday situations? Visit Crosswalk's forums to discuss this topic by clicking on the link below.