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Topic: Tolerance

Troublemaker Peacemakers

by Darrel Cline

There are a gazillion things about which people can debate when it comes to religion. Because of that, many people simply refuse to discuss it at all. In their case the desire for harmonious relations between people is greater than the desire for an agreement on what is religiously true. The motto of these people is: "Let's agree to disagree without being disagreeable." Today I want to address that mind-set.

On the one hand, it is admirable because it seeks to make harmony possible between people who do not see eye to eye. After all, Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God" (Matthew 5:9; KJV). And of all people, the children of God ought to long for peaceful relationships with others. The apostle Paul wrote, "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men" (Romans 12:18; KJV). So, live and let live has a validity that is established by the Leader of Christianity and its chief apostle.

But, as is the case with all wants, there is a time when this desire for peace comes into conflict with a more important desire. Most people understand, but do not think about, the reality that desires are multi-tiered in importance, and that sometimes lesser desires have to be sacrificed for greater ones. This is the essence of John 3:16, which tells us that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. God loved the fellowship He had with His Son and God loved the errant world. He couldn't hang on to both. The marvel of the Gospel is that He sacrificed His fellowship with His Son so that He could have fellowship with us. The point is, however, that some desires are mutually exclusive, and when decision time comes, something has to go. We can't have our cake and eat it too.

And so it is with the core truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is admirable to seek peace with all men. However, it is a high crime to allow men to perish in Hell for lack of a clear hearing of the Gospel simply because the proclamation of it is offensive to some. In other words, though it is admirable to seek to make peace, it is not admirable to seek it at the expense of the core of the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. What is good (seeking peace with all men) in some settings becomes a heinous cowardice (refusing to proclaim the Gospel) in other settings.

In our world today life is getting to be more and more fractious. That in itself makes us wish for peace between neighbors (the less peace we have, the more we want it). However, a great deal of the conflict exists precisely because those of us who have peace with God are unwilling to proclaim a clear Gospel to our neighbors because we know they won't like it. Peace among men is only possible when peace with God is the possession of all men. So true peacemakers proclaim the Gospel of peace in the face of a fractious and rebellious generation--and, ironically, get called troublemakers for their effort. When life is tough true believers proclaim the Truth.

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This is article #205.
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