Jesus’ cross is our call to live at peace with each other in the Christian community.
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“So then, let us pursue what makes for peace and for building up one another.”
Romans 14:19 New English Translation
My high school youth group played a significant role in my faith development. We were blessed with a wonderful pastor, great adult leaders and parents who supported our involvement, but one night things went a little too far (at least in my eyes).
I don’t remember what we did that day, but I do remember gathering in the church’s sanctuary for prayer. At the end of the prayer one of our adult leaders suggested that we give each other a kiss. No, it wasn’t a romantic kiss. There was nothing exceptionally weird about his request. He asked us to give each other a holy kiss as Paul suggested in Romans 16:16.
To be honest with you, I much more comfortable with holding hands than giving a holy kiss. Maybe I’m more comfortable holding hands because the world looks much different today than it did in Paul’s.
However, I view holding hands as a symbol of our life together in the Christian community.
We are much more autonomous in the 21st century than people of the 1st century. In the 1st century Christians needed each other for protection and as advocates. They couldn’t dial 911 at times of emergency. Instead, they’d run to a trusted friend when in need of help. They stood together because they needed each other on many different levels.
Whether we live in the 1st or the 21st century, Paul’s call to pursue those things that make for peace and for building each other up still remain. We still need each other.
We need communities that are focused on peace. In the biblical context peace is more than the absence of strife. Peace is contentment. Peace is wholeness. Peace is rest. We need communities that experience this kind of peace.
We also need communities that build on another up in Christ. Everyday the world tears us apart. We can’t trust our co-workers, our neighbors and sometimes even our friends and family members. We’re used as stepping stones for someone’s ascent to “greatness.”
Life together in Christ’s body is life that focuses on peace and love because this community is founded on Christ who is our peace. Life together begins and ends at Jesus’ cross and empty tomb.
Copyright Douglas P. Brauner