Christianity - A Religion of Peace

Christianity is a Religion of Peace which needs a Peaceful Manner of Dissemination

The Bible tells us that before Jesus Christ was finally arrested and crucified, he sent his disciples to continue to preach the good news of God to the world, to every nook and cranny: “Go to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: ‘The Kingdom of God is near’” (Matthew 10:6-7). Jesus gave his disciples this instruction to preach because he wanted them to continue from where he stopped, so that at the end no one could say, “I did not hear the message”.

Paul says, “Faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the words of Christ” (Romans 10:17). This means that if the good news is not preached to people, they will not hear, they will not have faith. Paul also asks, “How can men preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:15). Here Paul is trying to make us know that, before anyone can become a preacher, Jesus is the one who strengthens or ordains him to do so.

Preaching the gospel peaceably like Jesus did. Further Paul says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:15). In Isaiah, we see a similar statement: ”How beautiful upon the mountain are the feet of those who bring good news; who proclaim peace …” (Isaiah 52:7). These portions of the Bible no doubt are telling us that those who are chosen to preach the glad tidings should do so in a peaceful manner.

We have heard of some cases when conflicts occurred between some religious preachers and the people they preached to. We have also heard of some preachers of some other religions trying to force people to believe or accept their beliefs willy-nilly. A case in point is that which happened in Kaduna, Northern Nigeria, between Muslims and Christians some time ago, which claimed the lives of many intolerant believers on both sides. This happened because the two parties involved were destitute of religious tolerance which abounded in the Lord Jesus (1 Peter 2:23).

Another case in point is that of a Christadelphian martyr, Bro Faris of Kandahar, Afghanistan, who was beheaded by his father-in-law for being a Christian convert instead of a Muslim. This case was reported on the front page of the ‘Gospel News’, in the issue of March/April, 2004.

Paul says, “But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him” (2 Corinthians 2:14). Paul is telling us here that God always makes us succeed in our preaching or evangelical work if we use the sweet and friendly method of Jesus in preaching the words of God. In 2 Corinthians 5:20, we are told that we are ambassadors for Christ. Being worthy ambassadors for Christ, having been called to God’s vineyard as labourers through our baptisms by immersion, we should therefore preach the gospel peaceably as Christ did, by avoiding rancour or hurting our hearers’ feelings in the course of our preaching.

Paul in 2 Timothy admonishes us not to quarrel with anybody in the course of our preaching the good news of God: “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel, instead he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him must be gently instructed” (2 Timothy 2:24, 25). We are told by Peter of the great tolerance our Lord Jesus had: “When they hurled insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats” (1 Peter 2:23).

In Isaiah we are advised not to cry or make a noise in the streets, as some other religious preachers do in the name of preaching. We are all aware that during the preaching of Christ and his disciples, they were never heard shouting in the streets, condemning other religions as many preachers do offensively these days. “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets ,,,” (Isaiah 42:1, 2).

As Christians, we may have times of storm and unrest. This may be caused by the cooling of your relationship with Jesus. He wants us to be hot in our relationship with him. In speaking to the church of the Laodiceans in the book of Revelation, he said: “I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I will spue (spit) thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15, 16).If this condition makes Jesus sick, it is no wonder that a man feels as though he is in a storm when this condition exists. It may be that Jesus is allowing a time of testing. He brings circumstances into our lives to show us our direct dependence on him for everything. He may have caused the storm on the sea. Why does jesus allow such times of testing to come on those he loves? He knows that even as Christians, we have a tendency toward sin and selfishness. Even at our best, we cannot live a righteous life in our own strength.

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah said in a prayer: “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). We can surely see from this scripture that we must receive our guidance and strength from God. The apostle James says: “Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you” (James 4:8). Jesus has done so much for us by showing us how to live a life pleasing to God. He died on the cross giving his life as an offering to God for our sins. He has done all he can without forcing us against our will. So, when he comes to our life with tests, don’t do as the disciples did, Cry out in fear, thinking he has come to harm us. Be sure we are in the right relationship with him when the waves of testing come so we can grow in our faith to a closer walk with him. For the disciples, the storm in their hearts was more frightening than the storm on the sea. As Christians we should not let outward conditions affect the peace in our hearts. The prophet Isaiah wrote: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee because he trusteth in thee” (Isa 26:3). Another reason Jesus allows testing times to come is to teach us faith, so we can help other Christians in their testing times. The Bible says that God “Comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Cor 1:41).

When testing comes, the Bible has many promises of God’s care. God allowed difficult times in David’s life. Sometimes when David sinned, God worked in his life to bring him to see where he stood with him. Often it seems David allowed his troubles to ‘get him down’. He wrote in the book of Psalms of his struggle: “Why standest thou afar off, O Lord? Why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1). “How long with thou forget me, O Lord? How long wilt thou hide thy face from me?” (Psalm 13:1). “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?” Psalm 22:1).

But then David speaks of the greatness of God being with him and delivering him: “In my distress, I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple and my cry did enter his ears” (1 Samuel 22:7). At another place, David writes: “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous”. Now read Psalm 23 to find more of the care God provides.

Remember, Jesus said: “Be of good cheer”. This means “Be cheerful”. Are our troubles too much for us to handle? If they are, we can be sure Jesus can help. He said: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly in heart and ye shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light” (Matthew 11:18-30).When troubles come, “Be of good cheer”. They need not lead to despair. Jesus is more real to us even than our troubles. Remember, he walks on the waves to deliver us. They will pass but he will stay with us. But we are so often absorbed with our own affairs, trying our best to steer straight, anxiously watching the events around us, and allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed.

We may be so taken up with the things around us that we have no time to look across life’s waters to see who is coming through the storm to help us. We must keep our eyes and total attention on the only one who can help us. God said to people who turned from Him: “In returning and rest ye shall be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15). Are we always aware of Jesus’ presence with us? Is he really your best friend? A favourite hymn of many is:

“What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to hear,

What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.

O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer”.

If your troubles are great, call on Jesus. He will answer and help you. You may want to go to a Christian friend and have him help. He may have had victory over similar experiences in his life. Tell him your problem and then pray together, claiming Jesus’ promises. Jesus said: “Be of good cheer, it is I. Be not afraid” (Matthew 14:27). The lesson was left for us all. Whatever our weaknesses, whatever the sins we commit, we could not have a more understanding God, and a more fervent Saviour and mediator. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). The paralysed man, forgiven his sins, was able to jump for joy. The realisation of the marvel of forgiveness we received should cause us to end each day happy in the knowledge that we have been so privileged (Matt 14:23).

Consider the Lord when he was a solitary figure, in a lonely place, under a full moon, conversing with God. Alone one can experience a greater frankness and earnestness. It may be that prayer is more effectual when the mind is not encumbered or distracted. “Be of good cheer”. How can we respond to it unless we read and live the word every day? How can God listen to us if we seldom bow in prayer? How can He answer if there is no plea from us? God is more than aware of all that we do. So if there is a solid faith now, with no wavering on the way to Zion, if we live our lives to the glory of God and the praise of His dear Son, he will come back for us. As we come to the emblems of the Lord’s sacrifice, we will think of that surge of joy for us all, as we are welcomed with the words: ‘Be of good cheer; the Kingdom is yours’.

Bre Aigbosare & Frank Efeiretin (Urhonigbe, Nigeria)

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