Pursuing Peace (3) - Practicing Peace (Phil. 4)

Date: 9/15/2013
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Type: Sunday Sermon
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Pursuing Peace (3): Practicing Peace

Hebrews 12:14 - “Pursue peace with all men . . . . Philippians 4:2–9 [GS trans.] - I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to think together in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you also, my yoke-fellow, take hold of these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. 4 [You all] continually be glad [that you are] in the Lord; again I will repeat, be glad. 5 [You all] Let your gentle, patient side be seen by everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Stop worrying about things and pray about everything specifically with thankfulness so that what you ask for [instead of worry about] is made known to God. 7 And [then] the peace of God, which exceeds all your thinking about [the problems], will protect your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Last of these [encouragements], beloved, [in such problems] envision whatever is true, whatever is honest, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, [see in this] what is excellent and glorious. 9 Keep on putting into practice the things that you have been discipled in and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Peace and the Consummation. Peace is the final state of affairs in eternity. Grace, mercy, justification, all these are just a means to peace. Kinds of peace: 1) Cosmic Peace at the end of all things; 2) Salvific Peace with God through Christ; 3) Circumstantial Peace of orderly circumstances; 4) Peace of Mind is the result of trusting in God and being steadfast in resting in Him; 5) Relational Peace is freedom from outstanding issues of reconciliation and properly disposing of all offenses.

Peace and the Congregation. Our thematic passage (Heb. 12:14ff) identifies the pursuit of peace as urgent for our own salvation. Phil. 4 gives practical guidance in dealing with ongoing strained relationships in the congregation. Euodia and Syntyche have an ongoing relational problem in the church. Three general observations arise from this passage: a) Personal conflicts are a reality in the Church (v2). b) Pastoral interventions are a requirement in the Church (v3,9). c) Peace results from practicing personal, spiritual-mental habits forming renewed character (v6-8).

Peace and Kinds of Conflicts. True offenses against us must be addressed by a) granting forgiveness without confrontation or b) by confrontation to work out repentance and resolution (Mt. 18:15ff). Practical guide: If you seek to do a), but you continue to have a negative view of the other person, then you must do b). There are also extended cases which we will call c) ongoing relational strains. In Phil. 4, Paul provides a series of actions to help overcome such problems by putting them into perspective and the mental renewal which pursues peace.

Peace and Character Change. In the case of (c) ongoing relational strains, we must practice this pattern leads to a change of character, which leads to less offenses, more grace, more unity and finally peace. These steps for change may be rehearsed in a seven minute prayer routine (one minute on each):
1) Problem - Identify the problem (state it clearly) (v2-3).
2) Praise - Rehearse praise and gratitude for being “in the Lord” (v4).
3) Patience - Repent of impatience and be more long-suffering, repenting and purposing (v5).
4) Petitions - Replace worries with thankful, specific petitions (v6).
5) Peace - Leave the results with God and receive/accept His peace  by faith (v7).
6) Positivity - Envision the truth, goodness and beauty of your situation (v8).
7) Practicality - Identify and practice good models of peace (v9).

Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more