Animosity touches every inch of this planet. It’s everywhere and it has become like an airborne disease we can catch. These days, pastors are dealing with animosity in new ways. It’s critical we become immunized by the gospel of peace (Eph. 6:15). When we fully embrace this gospel of peace and become true peacemakers, we can lead our churches to do the same.
The idea of peace is gorgeous until someone offends you and you have to be the one who walks across the hot coals of fear, anger, and frustration to restore the relationship. But doing this is actually the good life for pastors and for everyone.
The Mayo Clinic says, “Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for improved health and peace of mind. Forgiveness can lead to healthier relationships, improved mental health, less anxiety, stress and hostility, lower blood pressure, fewer symptoms of depression, a stronger immune system, improved heart health, improved self-esteem.”
Forgiveness of sins is the pathway to peace with God and peace with God’s other image-bearers. The apostle Paul wrote these words to bring peace in a first-century, multiethnic, multiclass church he started in Ephesus:
Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens. (Eph. 6:10–12)
We know there is an unseen world of light and darkness and a battle raging between them. But there is good news. Even though the dark powers are still working, the light has won. Jesus has already dealt a death blow to the darkness.
The dominion of darkness does not want us to be peacemakers because evil knows forgiveness, grace, peace, and love lead to life. The human heart is like a garden that requires cultivation so life can flourish. Peacemaking acts as nourishment to help the human heart grow and bloom.
I’ve been in communication with many pastor-friends and they all seem to have similar struggles. They’re tired. They’re overwhelmed. They’re finding it hard to lead their churches during this time. The division amongst Christians is exhausting and disheartening. Where do we go from here?
Remember, pastor, this is not all on your shoulders. Jesus already came to bring peace to this world through the bloody cross. He has reconciled us to God the Father and torn down the walls of division. Preach that truth over and over again to yourself and to your church. Jesus is a hope-dealer and we are in the hope-dealing business with him.
As you and I engage in peacemaking and building bridges in the church and outside the church, we will be called sons and daughters of God (Matt. 5:9). Wouldn’t it be nice for us as followers of Jesus to be known for making peace? That is the good life.
About the Author
Dr. Derwin L. Gray, is the co-founder and lead pastor of Transformation Church, a multiethnic, multigenerational, mission-shaped church in the Charlotte, NC area.
Dr. Gray has been married since 1992 and has two adult children. He was an All-American Safety at Brigham Young University. He then went on to play 5 years with the Indianapolis Colts and 1 year with the Carolina Panthers.
In 2015, Derwin was awarded an honorary doctorate from Southern Evangelical Seminary. In 2018, he received his Doctor of Ministry in the New Testament in Context at Northern Seminary.
He is the author of several books, including the national bestseller, The Good Life: What Jesus Teaches About Finding True Happiness.
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