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Rank: Peace within our community

Jesus said and did so many things that, if all had been recorded, the world itself probably could not contain the books that would have been written.

That thought, perhaps embellished to make a point, is found in John 21:25. Indeed, when looking at only what was recorded, it’s easy to see why the last 2,000 years have been globally impacted by Jesus’ words and deeds.

One should wonder how much more of an impact would there have been had it all been written?
There are still, even if it wasn’t all recorded, so many impressive things that stand out. Of all the things He did, I believe one thing has too small a weight placed on it by His followers: He sat and ate, and talked and reasoned with sinners.

When it came to them, there is no record of Jesus going out and looking for sinners so He could point fingers and make sure they understood what bad people they were. Instead, He sat with them, talked, ate… He reflected the light within him toward the darkness that surrounded their lives.

In doing so, Jesus raised them up, extending to them mercy and love while driving the religious establishment into a tizzy over the practice.

That action, by the living model Christians follow, is a far cry from the state of community we find ourselves in today.

Instead of sitting with sinners and opening a door of communication with them, we all too often avoid them and point fingers.

We have also devolved into doing the same with those who do not share our political views.

Rather than coming together and finding common ground, or even agreeing to disagree, we divide and polarize each other and those around us. In our zeal to be correct, we end up being the cause of strife and division, often with other Christians, and usually because that person simply reached a conclusion that differs from our own.   

The prophet Jeremiah, in chapter 29, is speaking to those who had been taken into Babylon. In that chapter, God tells those people through the prophet to build homes, plant gardens, eat the fruit, take wives, procreate, etc.

Then God says through Jeremiah, “Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive and pray to the Lord for it, for in its peace, you will have peace.”

In essence, Jeremiah was saying they were to become an active (and prayerful) part of the community in which they found themselves.

Yes, this was written to those taken captive in Babylon, but I would submit the spirit of these verses apply to us as well.

My question to us all: Do you seek the peace of the city in which you find yourself? Do you pray for that city? Do you sit and reason with those you don’t agree with, who don’t hold your views, or do you avoid them, look down on them, willingly stand at odds against them?

The city of Winchester is our home. Yet, small town or not, it isn’t immune to the growing global trend where everything is black or white, right or wrong.

In that scenario, we are expected, culturally, to pick a side and square off against anyone with an opposing view or belief.

I would suggest, this isn’t God’s will. Instead, it seems more likely that in addition to praying for our community and becoming more active within it so as to promote peace, we are also expected to be a light where darkness exists.

We are expected to do as our model did, extend mercy and love to those who might not look, think and act like we do.

Is that easy? Rarely. But nothing good, that is worth having, ever really comes without a price. So, if the price for peace in a community in which we live in and love amounts to us reflecting the one we claim to serve while spending a little more time each day on our knees (lifting up that community and it’s leaders), then our price is a bargain.

I know many Christians have been paying this price. But for the love of peace and the community in which we live, it’s time we all paid up.

Ken Rank is a pastor at Beit Minorah which meets on Saturday afternoon at the old Pilot View School in Winchester. He can be reached at kenrank@gmail.com.