Balms of Gilead or Bombs Away?


Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:3)

Today we find ourselves in one of the most divisive chapters of our nation’s recent history. Polarized views on racial justice and law enforcement have caused upheaval in our communities; differences of opinion on social distancing and mask-wearing have pitted neighbor against neighbor; and today’s political climate has banished politician and citizen alike from common ground to opposing bases on a variety of potentially divisive issues.

As I’m sure we’ve all witnessed, the Church is not exempt from the conflict surrounding these realities. When our security is threatened, we tend to join the chorus of quarreling voices—protecting our own and vehemently defending our self- or mob-defined views of right and wrong behavior in the midst of calamity. In doing so, we ignore two fundamental characteristics of the Holy Spirit–yielding church: unity and peace.

In Walking in the Spirit, A. B. Simpson writes,

The Church in which the Holy Ghost abides is no mere sectarian fragment, but the whole body of believers united to Christ, the Living Head . . . and though there be diversities of gifts, it is the same Spirit; differences of administrations, it is the same Lord; varieties of operations, it is the same God which worketh all in all.

It’s OK to have differences; but if these differences undermine the divine unity imparted by the Spirit of God, we surrender our set-apartedness. We take on the characteristics of our combative society—its infighting, intolerance, criticisms, and demands. We reinforce the unbelieving world’s perception that the Church is hypocritical, judgmental, and known more for what it is against than what it is for.

On the issue of peace, Simpson continues,

The earliest symbol of the Holy Spirit is the dove . . . It is the same typical figure that we meet again as the emblem of peace and gentleness, and the herald of the morning of the new world in the dark and stormy night of the deluge. It is the same blessed person, who, on the banks of the Jordan, descended in visible form like a dove, and abode upon the Lord Jesus, the herald of peace and love to a sinful world, and the emblem of the Spirit of Christ’s ministry. As the dove, the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of peace, the Giver of rest.

Church, our divided and turbulent world needs a Spirit-united Church and our rest-Giver’s peace. In the chaos and calamity of the day, will we soothe wounds with the healing balm of Jesus—or salt them with warring refrains?

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