OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew

            Peace involves a state of tranquility or calmness.  It is the absence of strife, tribulation, or warfare.  A peaceful environment is one appreciated by all.  It is a condition that every child of God is commanded to diligently seek.  “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).  And again:  “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18).

            To disturb the peace within a local congregation or within the brotherhood involves one in sin.  Most brethren would agree with this statement.  The problem comes when we try to identify the individuals who are creating conflict and disturbing the peace.  Oftentimes, the faithful and obedient are the ones charged with disturbing the peace and harmony within the church.  This is not a new mistake.  In times past, those seeking to do the Lord’s work were charged with creating trouble among the Lord’s people.

            In I Kings 16, Ahab takes the throne inIsrael.  The Biblical text reveals that he walked in the sins of Jeroboam.  He also married the wicked Jezebel.  He served the false god Baal.  His reign is summarized with these words:  “…and Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him” (I Kings 16:33).  To combat Ahab’s wickedness, God raised up the prophet Elijah.  Elijah’s first act involved a three and a half year drought brought upon Israel.  Before the drought ended, Elijah and king Ahab met.  Their conversation is recorded in I Kings 18:17-18.  “And it came to pass when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?  And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim.”  Ahab failed to properly identify the person who was really disturbing the peace in Israel.  He charged Elijah with being the troublemaker.  In reality, it was Ahab who was committing the crime.  He troubled Israel by violating the commands of God.

            This Old Testament illustration is easy to stomach.  Ahab was definitely a wicked king and a troubler of Israel.  Let’s turn our attention to an illustration that is nearer home.  Within a congregation, one of the members begins to be unfaithful to God.  His unfaithfulness grows to the point that he completely ceases attending the worship services.  He is violation of several passages of Scripture in addition to Hebrews 10:25.  He is sent cards.  He is visited.  He is called.  However, he persists in his unfaithfulness.  His actions prompt the leadership of the church to take disciplinary action against the member in harmony with II Thessalonians 3:6.  The time comes for the man’s repentance, but he continues in his sin.  The eldership exhorts the members of the church to withdraw from this brother.  Who is the one disturbing the peace in this congregation? 

            Many believe the elders are disrupting the peace of the church.  The unfaithful slowly drifts from the flock.  He creates no stir.  He just wants to be left alone.  Some see this as being peaceful.  The elders, on the other hands, are seen as the troublers.  They publicly state the name of the one who is in sin.  This makes people uncomfortable.  They exhort the brethren to withdraw fellowship.  This put members of the church in a difficult position.  Because of the feelings associated with the withdrawal, individuals see the elders as the ones responsible for disturbing the peace.  Brethren, such thinking could not be farther from the truth.  The unfaithful man has separated himself from God.  He is the one at odds with both God and the church.  His actions initiated the withdrawal.  Had he continued to be faithful, peace would have ensued within the church.  The elders, like Elijah, are being faithful to God.  By obeying the command of God’s Word to withdrawal (II Thess. 3:6), they are proving that they are the friends of God (John 15:14).  They are also trying to seek peace between the unfaithful brother and God.

            When it comes to identifying those who are “disturbing the peace” within a congregation, far too many think in worldly, secular, fleshly terms.  We must set aside such thinking and seek the wisdom that comes from God.  Solomon put it in these words:  “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Prov. 3:5).  Paul stated it in this manner:  “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17).  When one calls the wrong right and the right wrong, he has committed a dangerous action.  “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!...which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!” (Isa. 5:20, 23).