Bringing Peace Back Home
Maintaining Harmony Within the Church
Scripture Lesson - Acts 15:22-35
"After they had been there for some time, they were sent off in peace by the believers to those who had sent them." Acts 15:33
At the end of worship service, do we send visitors and friends home with peace? This question may seem odd, but have you ever stopped to think about how we should feel upon returning from worship service?
We are told in the book of Acts that Silas and Judas, "said much to encourage and strengthen the believers. After they had been there for some time, they were sent off in peace by the believers to those who had sent them (Acts 15:32-33)." These verses define the meaning of true Christian Fellowship. Think about the last worship service that you attended. Did you feel encouraged and strengthened? What about the members of the congregation and the visitors? Did the congregation ensure that people were sent out into the world with the peace of Christ?
When we depart from worship service, we are being sent out into the world to be Christian missionaries. Our countenance should be a countenance of peace and love. However, we sometimes leave worship service with more baggage than ever. Perhaps someone said something to us before the service to make us angry. Perhaps something did not go our way or we did not receive proper recognition for something that we did for the church. On those days, did we depart in peace?
In James 3: 9-12 we read, With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water."
The point of James' message is to illustrate that there is no room for hurtful words in the church. A church that is filled with malicious and slanderous talk can not bear fruit. However, there seem to be many salt springs trying to produce fresh water as church members try to tear apart the family of God. When we speak ill of one another we fail to show love of neighbor. These actions grieve the Holy Spirit.
As Paul tells the church at Ephesus, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God with who you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:29-32)."
Therefore, when we are in church, we are there to support and encourage the members of our spiritual family as they embark on life's journey. The next time you attend worship service, pay attention to your conversations, for even secret conversations can not be hidden from the Holy Spirit. Speak words of encouragement and send visitors and friends home with the peace of Christ in their hearts.