Peace and Love

As I watched my oldest daughter graduate from high school a few weeks ago, I began reflecting on how hard it must be to be a Jesus-loving teenager. Scanning the crowd of students, I reminisced the countless memories my daughter and her classmates shared together. I could picture her and her friends as they were in elementary school and thought about all the changes and challenges they have experienced since then. Sitting there in the stands, I couldn’t help but think about what it’s like to be young in today’s culture. The world says be you and live free. I wonder how many know what it truly means to be free of the world’s burdens?

Matthew 5:11-12 says “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven.”  

Let’s pause there and be honest. This is not an easy thought process! It is tough to be mocked and persecuted, to be different and isolated. Matthew goes on to write that Jesus said we are to be the salt of the earth and light of the world. I believe that a young Christian today adds a distinct flavor and brightness to the world, but I’m sure they experience isolation as well. My daughter experienced seasons of being left out and loneliness partly due to her convictions and her relationship with Christ.  Although there was division at times, most of the friendships remained. The light of Christ in her created a safe space for her peers. She was able to provide truth and comfort to them during tough times. I witnessed restoration of friendships and have seen her lead some to Christ. 

In Opendoor’s podcast, “Behind the Message,” Jake Haggard referenced our recent sermon “Are you Salty?” In the message, Pastor Aaron shared that if we are anchored in the world, there will be a huge temptation to retaliate against others. Jake made a great point that If we’re going to be the salt in the world and make a difference, we must follow biblical principles and lay down our right to retaliate. We must fight back with peace and love. 

I’m sure there were times that my daughter wanted to retaliate when she was excluded. Her courageous choice to respond with peace and love by refusing to gossip and standing up for the underdog have been an inspiration to me and others. I realize now that she was building a strong foundation and that the Lord was strengthening her character, and the light in her was changing lives. 

That’s what it comes down to - are we growing His Kingdom with a preserving and shining spirit and what does that look like in our everyday life? Matthew 5:15 tells us not to hide our light but to let it shine for all to see.  Do we bring a positive or negative vibe to a room? Are we sharing God’s joyful light or dimming the light of others? Do we add flavor and value of God’s truth to our conversations?

JOURNAL:  Where do you struggle with retaliation? How can you be light in those situations?

ACTIVATION: In the “Are you Salty” podcast, Jake explained that salt was so valuable during the Roman Empire era that Romans were paid in salt. He compared it to how valuable we are as followers of Christ that we are called to be salt of the earth.

Do you know your value? Take some time and listen to God. Write down what He says about your importance and value to Him. 

PRAYER: Thank You for Your fresh Word, Lord.  Show us where we have chosen retaliation and change our hearts to be more like You.  Forgive us where we fall short. Help us shine Your light rather than our own.
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