“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18, ESV)
Before I jump in on this Scripture that has challenged me lately, I want to thank you so much for the opportunity last week to spend some time away with Stephanie, Allison and Ethan. We enjoyed a week in Missouri with our extended family and were grateful for that time with them. I was also able to recalibrate my own personal practices of being in the Word and prayer and the time away allowed me to sharpen those practices more carefully. I am grateful for the time away to refresh in that way.
A few weeks ago we began a series in the Word on relationships and the common issues that cause relational meltdown among us. If you haven’t been able to catch the series yet, or maybe missed one of the messages you can visit our SoundCloud page and listen to them there. One of the things that I have noticed since we began this series is that many of us have suddenly began experiencing relationship frustration. It seems like the Lord wants to work in our lives to strengthen and improve our relationships with one another. Often we want to point the finger at our adversary and blame him for attacking our relationships, but at the same time the Lord brings the word to us to convict and challenge us so that we will be more like Christ as we humble ourselves to him. All of that to say the relational conflict we feel right now is part of God’s timely operation through the Scriptures to help us grow.
Now - about that verse above - it really puts us in a box. Paul tells us that we have a relational obligation towards one another. That obligation? It’s to live at peace with all people. That call to live at peace with all people however has a starting point; “as far as it depends on you.” That might feel like an escape clause, as if to say, “well you tried your best and relational peace isn’t happening so you’re off the hook.” But I think Paul is really raising the bar in that statement. As far as it depends on me requires that I proactively work for and pursue peace in my relationships. I have to do the labor of making peace with those I am in turmoil with.
Sometimes we like to shift into the “passive” mode, especially in conflict, and just let the struggle sort it self out. Yet, Christ shows us how to pursue peace with one another. He didn’t sit passively by, he came to his enemies (us!), he served his enemies, he loved his enemies, he gave himself fully for his enemies. There was not one moment of passivity in Christ’s pursuit of peace with us. He came, lived among us, suffered at our hands, died because of our sin, and was raised to life for our justification! Peace was accomplished by his work.
As we consider our relational tensions and challenges I want to encourage us not to sit back and hope that peace is made, I want to encourage us to pursue peace - to really work for it. We need to humbly set aside ourselves, lay our “rights” and agendas down, and actively pursue peace in every way, as far as we can, with others. This glorifies Christ and displays the beauty of the gospel.
Sunday morning we will be tackling the fourth issue that often destroys relationships; unforgiveness. Our text is Matthew 18:23-35. I am praying our Father humbles and gives us grace to be forgiving people, as we have been forgiven much. We’ve posted on Spotify the list of songs we will sing as we worship God together. Specifically:
- My Lighthouse
- This Is Amazing Grace
- Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace)
- Blessed Assurance
- Holy Spirit
One other thing that I want to highlight is the two opportunities as a campus we will have to celebrate Thanksgiving together. One is a joint Thanksgiving Service on Sunday night, Nov 22 at 6pm at our Farmington Hills campus. We will be worshipping and celebrating together with our Farmington Hills and Dearborn campuses together that night. It’ll be a great night of celebration together at what God has done among us at Woodside more collectively. You won’t want to miss that.
The second opportunity is at our campus on Wednesday night, Nov 25 at 7pm. This will be a more intimate time of celebration and fellowship together. We’ll have pie and refreshments after as well. Let’s be sure to gather as families and share and give thanks together!
I am praying that the Lord shows you much grace through the rest of this week. I am looking forward to worshipping with you and serving you this coming Sunday.