MOVING FORWARD TOGETHER IN PEACE
By Leland Beaudrot
In light of our recent called meeting of General Synod, I commend to our mutual consolation and guidance the words of Psalm 34. While the entirety of this text has much to teach us in these days, I find the verses of the metrical version, number 72 in Bible Songs, capture three very important points for us to consider.
O children, hither do ye come, And unto me give ear;
I shall you teach to understand How ye the Lord should fear.
Is this not our first calling as Christians, to pass along to the coming generation the good news of Jesus Christ? Indeed, as God commands in Deuteronomy 6:4-7, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children…”
This process, of course, begins in the home and is encouraged and reinforced by worship and study within the church. Beyond this, in that most critical juncture, when young people are prepared for their own lives and careers, God has blessed the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church with an excellent institution of Christian higher education: Erskine College.
As stated in Synod’s Statement of the Philosophy of Christian Higher Education, “Erskine’s ultimate objective for every student must be the gaining of an understanding of the truth that ‘man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.’” Therefore, let us pray that not only in our homes and our congregations, but in our college and seminary as well, the teaching of that fear of God which is the beginning of wisdom will prevail.
What man is he that life desires, To see good would live long?
Thy lips refrain from speaking guile, And from ill words thy tongue.
While it seems good to many to speak their mind, it would be good for each one of us to first seek the mind of Christ: So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:1-11).
The Word of God is clear. So before we unleash our electronic tongues, we need to examine our hearts and our missives through its lens. As we read in Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” One of the characteristics of salt that makes food more palatable is that it takes away bitterness. Let us pray that God will season our communications that bitterness might cease.
Depart from ill, do good, seek peace, Pursue it earnestly.
God’s eyes are on the just, His ears are open to their cry.
Contentious situations are nothing new within the church. Paul’s Corinthian correspondence informs us of discord within the body which brought him to tears. Yet, at the end of it all, he is confident that the church in Corinth can move forward together in peace, “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11)” If we would be at peace with God, and with one another, there can be no better council than this.
Rev. Beaudrot is a graduate of Erskine College and Seminary and is the assistant to the director of Central Services at the ARP Center in Greenville, SC.