At a recent birthday party, the birthday boy blew out his candles and made a wish. Not knowing that you are not “supposed” to share the birthday wish out loud, he said that his wish was for peace on earth.
At the church my parents used to attend in Florida, each service would end with everyone in the congregation holding hands and singing the song “Let there be peace on earth.” The song starts with the words, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”
Peace on earth sounds like such a lofty goal, something that can never happen. But peace among Christians is of critical importance to Jesus. In fact, one of the last things He did before His betrayal and arrest was to pray for the unity of His followers.
In John 17 Jesus prays His high priestly prayer, part of which includes praying for His followers. As part of His prayer He said, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (Italics mine) (English Standard Version)
Why does Jesus want us to live in unity? So that the watching world will come to know Him. I know of someone who stopped going to church many years ago because the infighting between people who professed to follow Christ completely turned him off. That is not what Jesus wants people to see.
As you handle conflicts in the new year, especially with other believers, consider (1) how to handle the conflict in such a way that your goal is reconciliation with the other person, and (2) how you can use the conflict to bring glory to God. Indeed, let peace on earth begin with you. The world will notice.
…and they’ll know they are Christians by our love, by our love, and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.