Pursuing Excellence as Peacemakers for 2017 in the Church
God’s word tells us many things we must do for Jesus in light of who we are in Jesus. A select list of responsibilities, however, are subject to a be-the-best-we-can-be, give-our-all, go-all-out kind of excellence in obeying them.
One of those responsibilities in particular for every church-going follower of Jesus gets a lot of Bible press. I’m talking about peacemaking. The Scriptures make this very clear in numerous places. Perhaps Ephesians 4:1-6 says it most thoroughly among them.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Camp out with me for a moment on that word “eager” in v. 3. Paul argues that a life gripped by the gospel of Jesus will, among other things, demonstrate itself in an eagerness for keeping the peace in the body of Christ.
The word for “eager” in the original text is the same word translated “do your best” in 2 Timothy 2:15. It shows up again in 2 Peter 1:5, translated a bit differently but conveying a similar idea, included in a list of highly desirable virtues in a believer’s life:
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love (emphasis added).
Be eager. Do your best. Make every effort. These are multiple ways of saying virtually the same thing. They all capture the verb’s urgency regardless of the subject under consideration.
The Greek word comes from a root that means to run or make haste, to hurry about something. It communicates the idea of urgency, energy, a vigorous pursuit of something. Theologian Markus Barth nailed it with his assessment of this word so important to each of these contexts:
It is hardly possible to render exactly the urgency contained in the underlying Greek verb. Not only haste and passion, but a full effort of the whole man is meant, involving his will, sentiment, reason, physical strength, and total attitude. The imperative mood of the participle found in the Greek text excludes passivity, quietism, a wait-and-see attitude, or a diligence tempered by all deliberate speed. Yours is the initiative! Do it now! Mean it! You are to do it! I mean it!—Such are the overtones in verse 3.
Paul commands that this is the way we should regard the call to peacemaking for unity’s sake in the body of Christ.
Will you give your best and nothing less as a peacemaker at your church in 2017?