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
Just the other day, I read Chapter 9 of Mark’s Gospel. It was just so good. I’m reading it in the Message Bible. Sometimes the Message Bible’s translation is so fresh, that I’m struck fresh by the words. It’s such a good feeling to see familiar chapters and verses rephrased in a new way.
The last part of Mark Chapter 9 says that we should be “preservatives” in this world. We are to preserve peace. I’d never seen it that way before. It meant so much to me. Imagine it! “Preserve the peace.” Jesus gives His peace to us, and we have the privilege of preserving it.
Does that mean we should never argue? I don’t think so. Preserving peace is not the same as avoiding confrontation. Preserving peace is about the love we bring to the situation when confrontation arises.
Avoiding confrontation isn’t good. You need to be confrontational at times. In fact, if you are grounded in your beliefs, then confrontation is inevitable. You can’t avoid it.
But Jeremy, you’re saying, I’m never confrontational. Never? If you’re never confrontational, it could mean that you’re not grounded in what you believe.
How can you tell? Well, what happens when someone asks you to do something that goes against your beliefs? What do you say? If you say, “No, I won’t do that, and I don’t want to talk about it,” then maybe you need some grounding. Refusing to talk about it does not preserve peace. In fact, it can stir up storms! That’s not healthy.
You don’t have to fear confrontation. It’s okay to confront people, and still be in a healthy relationship with them and with God. In a healthy confrontation, you stand up for what you believe. You stand your ground. You talk about it. You explain your beliefs.
You can do this and still preserve peace. Just be calm about it. In a calm confrontation, you’ll hear a grounded person explaining their beliefs. They’ll say, “Here’s why I believe what I believe.” They’ll explain their reasons for saying no.
I’m so aggressively competitive that this can be very difficult for me at times. I think it’s natural for anyone to take a lot of pride in what they do. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing. It’s just confidence.
But sometimes, we have a hard time with the line dividing confident ability from boastful pride. That line is very fine, and we can cross it, real quick. That’s a battle we all have.
The good news is, there’s grace in this. Jesus gives us grace. It doesn’t mean He’s okay with it. It doesn’t mean that He doesn’t mind when we cross the line. But He doesn’t reject us, or expect some kind of sacrifice to make it up to Him. He 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 has high expectations of us. He says, “Hey, you have to be humble. You have to know that you have these these abilities, because I have given them to you. And this strong confidence you have? I’ve given you that too. You don’t do these things without me.”
Staying confident without crossing over into boastful pride is really, really hard, which is why we need Him. It’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. It doesn’t necessarily preserve peace, but if I loved on a hungry neighbor, I 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 my beliefs, or my principles, or my self-confidence, or my family? 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. Because 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 that shows what I mean. See you Friday.