Following a devastating conflict amongst our leadership in the summer of ’02, everyone involved in that struggle met for a weekend retreat with two trained mediators from Peacemaker Ministries for a conciliation retreat.
God gave me the privilege of participating in that event. I will never forget it. Emotions ran high. Hurts went deep. But God worked mightily among us that Friday night and all day Saturday such that all fifteen men came out of the weekend reconciled with one another. Forgiveness was granted. Fellowship was restored. Much has changed since then but each of those men, as far as I know, remain in fellowship with one another as a result of a commitment to do biblical peacemaking for the glory of God and the good of His church.
I refuse to let us forget. On my watch, Lord willing, we will remember. Every second Sunday of September I depart from the regular sermon series and preach on some aspect of biblical peacemaking. Few objectives matter more to our church than the development and maintenance of a culture of peace within our midst. I will preach this Sunday from 1 Cor. 6:1-8 a message entitled How Not To Resolve Disputes Among Believers. I want us to maintain a high regard for the peace and purity of our church so that the testimony of our fierce love for one another in this regard redounds to the fame of Christ and the renown of His name.
You can contribute to the ongoing development of a culture of peace at Orlando Grace by subscribing to various free electronic publications from one of my favorite groups, Peacemaker Ministries. I received this sample from their weekly PeaceMeal publication this week:
Being a peacemaker is difficult. There is no other way to honestly speak about it. It is hard, humbling, and sometimes humiliating work. But consider this: The peace that Christ achieved for us was hard. Jesus is described as a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief (Isa. 53:3). It was humbling. Jesus humbled himself to the point of death, even death on a cross (Phil. 2:8). And it was humiliating. Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame (Heb.12:2). All this was done so that peace, not just an appearance of peace, but the reality of peace would be achieved between God and human beings.
We may never act more like Christ, more reflect the character and person of Christ, than when we engage one another in love and fight for the peace and purity of our church.
As we observe the anniversary of this landmark event that set us on a course for cultivating a culture of peace at OGC, may we pray and labor for this reflection of Christ in our midst for many, many years to come.