What Does Peace Look Like in a Congregation?

     “... seek peace and pursue it.” I Peter 3:11

     Everybody generally wants to be at peace, but how badly do you want it? Peace amongst a group of people takes work. Peter opened his letter in I Peter 1:2 saying, “May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” Every Christian should aspire for peace to be multiplied within a congregation. So how can we work together to pursue greater peace? 

     A few misconceptions need to be cleared up first in order to understand our goal. 

     Peace is more than comfort. Consider the church in Laodicea in Revelation 3:15-17, “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing.” Remember Jesus is rebuking them here, not commending them. They are told to repent in verse 19. Comfort turns into complacency, and that is not God’s ideal for His church.

     Peace is more than the absence of conflict. In Revelation 2:14-16, Jesus warns the church at Pergamos He will “fight against them with the sword of My mouth.” Why? Because the church at Pergamos compromised on doctrine in an effort to remain at “peace” with one another. Sometimes we have to lovingly and humbly confront our brethren and say difficult things in order to be at peace with God. 

     Peace is found in contention. Peace within a congregation is found when Christians stand and fight together against Satan! There is no peace within a congregation unless you have peace with Christ first. Philippians 1:27-30 demonstrates how a local church is supposed to be “striving together for the faith of the gospel” in the face of conflict. The “gospel of peace” must be defended in spiritual battle by those equipped with “the full armor of God,” (Ephesians 6:13-18).

     So how do you contend in order to multiply peace? Begin by taking personal responsibility. Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people.” The fact is, peace with all people is not always possible if you want to remain at peace with God, (James 4:4).

     I Thessalonians 5:12-18 provides valuable instruction to maintain peace within a local congregation. First, appreciate your elders. Subject yourself to their authority, even when you have a different opinion. Also, warn the unruly. This requires us to get out of our comfort zone. Third, comfort the fainthearted. Remember you are all fighting against Satan, and everyone needs comfort from time to time. Next, uphold the weak. Christians within a congregation are at various levels of faith. This is also why we must be patient with all. We are all human and mess up from time to time. Always pursue what is good. There is no room for pettiness amongst children of God. Finally, rejoice together, pray together and for each other, and be thankful for each other.

     Peace is possible, but it takes work. Are you willing to pursue it? When you understand God’s vision for His church and follow the instructions in His word, you will find out what peace looks like within a congregation.