Everyone’s going through a refining fire sooner or later, but you’ll be well-preserved, protected from the eternal flames. Be preservatives yourselves. Preserve the peace. Mark 9:49-50, The Message Bible
In Mark 9 it says we are supposed to preserve peace. If you’re not all that competitive, then this should be easy for you, right? Or so you might think! Our problem is that we confuse “competitive” with “confrontational.” Avoiding confrontation isn’t good. You need to be confrontational at times. If you are grounded in your beliefs, then confrontation is inevitable. So if you’re never confrontational, maybe that means you’re not grounded in what you believe.
What happens when the person who isn’t grounded in their beliefs is asked to do something that goes against those beliefs? Here’s the conversation:
Here’s the conversation with someone who is grounded:
“No, no. I’m not doing that.”
“Here’s my reason why.”
You can do this and still preserve peace. Just be calm about it. In a calm confrontation, you’ll hear the grounded person say, “Here’s why I believe what I believe.” It’s just a matter of explaining your reason for saying no.
I’m so aggressively competitive that this can be very difficult for me at times. There’s a lot of pride in what we do as professional athletes. I don’t think this is necessarily a negative thing. It’s just a matter of having confidence in what we can do. But we have a hard time with the line dividing good confident ability from boastful pride. That line is very fine. And we can cross it, real quick. That’s a battle all athletes have.
There’s grace in this. Jesus gives us grace. It doesn’t mean He’s okay with it, or that He doesn’t mind when we cross the line. He just gives us grace. He says, “I understand your situation. And I understand that this is a really tough thing for you.”
Still, along with the grace He offers, I think He also has high expectations of us. He says, “Hey, you have to be humble. You have to know that I have given you these abilities. I’ve given you this strong confidence. You don’t do anything without me.” That’s something I have to make myself aware of every day.
I can do the easy things! It’s easy for me to look at someone who’s hungry and give him something to eat. I can do that. This doesn’t necessarily preserve peace, but I loved on a hungry neighbor, and hopefully it helped him get through his day. And maybe I did preserve peace in a way, because maybe giving him something to eat made him feel loved. That’s easy.
But when you challenge me as a man? That’s going to be really, really hard for me. That’s when I have to look for the grace Jesus gives me. When I’m in an angry confrontation, I have to really look hard for the out that Jesus gives us. He always gives us an out. I just think it can be really hard to see it.
Next time, I’ll tell you a story about grace. See you Saturday.