Monday, December 17, 2007

War and Peace

On Sundays leading up to the Christmas holiday, I have been preaching through Paul's letter to the Philippians. Philippians is a letter that captures in a theological way many of the mottoes of the holiday season. "Joy to the World" is a dominant theme of Paul's letter in the letter. "Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Men" also receives significant attention.

One of the problems that prompts Paul's letter is a disagreement between two sisters in the church, Euodia and Syntche. Paul calls on them in 4.2-3 to put into practice the example of Jesus (2.5-11) and to seek agreement because of the status they share "in the Lord."

Philippians 4 has been called the "Peace Chapter" of the New Testament. In it, Paul says that peace is contingent upon right praying (4.6-7), right thinking (4.8) and right living (4.9).

In contrast, James 4 has often been referred to as the "War Chapter" of the New Testament. It is there that James identifies the sources of a warring spirit that breeds division and dissension. And there, ironically, James points to wrong praying (4.3), wrong thinking (4.8) and wrong living (4.4) as the sources of strife.

How we think, pray and live is essential. There can be no dichotomy between how we think and how we live.

So how are you living today? Are you living in harmony with your Christian relatives? If you find strife to be permeating your relationships, perhaps it is a direct result of your own prayers (or lack thereof), thoughts and actions.

The path to peace is to reorients your prayer and thoughts to the will of God. In back of that, your life will reflect a gentle spirit that seeks peace with all.