hatchett  I wonder how many hatchets are buried in churches with the handle sticking out?  Let me explain…

  I was in a meeting last night where a devotion was given regarding a church situation (The church had been through some difficult times).  The man stated that there is a difference between a cease fire and peace.  The text he used was James 3:18 where it is written, “A harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

His point was that in order for righteousness to bear fruit in a church, there has to be peace in the church… that individuals had to make it a point to bring peace and facilitate peace within the congregation.  Otherwise God is not glorified.

Then he used a great example from history.  He reminded us that the wars with Japan and Germany both resulted in peace being declared.  Since peace was declared, there have been good relations between those two nations and America.

However, he pointed out that when it came to the Korean War, peace was never attained… that actually a cease fire was implemented which is still in place today.  The result?  North Korea is still militaristic and a threat to all nations in the region because peace was never declared.

Application.  He said in essence that too many times in churches a cease fire is mistaken for peace.  Hostilities have temporarily ceased, but the emotions that fueled war are bubbling just under the surface.  All it takes is the right or wrong thing to happen and cease fire turns back into war.

He concluded by saying there is only one thing that turns a cease fire into peace in the church setting.  Forgiveness.  Genuine forgiveness.  Forgiveness from the heart.

He was 100% right.  I know this to be true by experience.  A church can seem to be at peace when in reality there is only a cease fire in place.  Hostilities are still very much a part of the congregation’s dynamic… but they’re just not as evident as when a fight is taking place in the open.  Here’s how I know…

The first three churches I served fired the preacher prior to me.  Looking back I can now say that in all three situations, when I came a cease fire was in place, but peace certainly wasn’t there.  I can also say the same thing about the last church I served.  What was believed to be peace was in reality a cease fire within the congregation.  That is not a slam against any of them, just a personal reflection after being removed by time from those situations.  Sad thing is, it is virtually impossible for those in the situation to admit or believe all they have is a cease fire instead of peace.  And no one ever thinks they are to blame for it.

The man giving the devotion encouraged his listeners to work toward peace and not tolerate a cease fire.  The reason… a cease fire is temporary, peace is ongoing.

Personal Comment.  A cease fire is not the preferred option in church.  The reason is that when a new minister comes to a church… if a cease fire is mistaken for peace… eventually a war will erupt and be a complete surprise to the minister and many in the church.  I know people would rather not deal with the emotions, faults, and issues that caused the war that brought about the cease fire… but until there is healing through forgiveness, full scale war is but one meeting away… one phone call away… one letter away… one comment away.

Jesus said, “All men will know you are my disciples by your love one for another…”