Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Solitude

(from Skip Moen)

Today’s spiritual discipline is Solitude: Richard Foster writes “Solitude involves creating an open, empty space for God that undercuts all the false support systems we use to shore up our lives.” Does your space for God rest on balance or harmony? How peaceful is your solitude? Feel free to read this from the May 2 devotional from “At God’s Table” and then post a comment in response!

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God. Matthew 5:9

Peacemakers – Did you know that the Greek word for “peacemaker” never occurs in Greek literature except in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint)? That tells us something important. The concept “peacemaker” is Hebrew, not Greek. In spite of all that you have heard about Christians making peace with others and with God, the idea does not come from the Greek world of the first century. It comes from a much more ancient world – the world of the Hebrew Bible. If you want to know what Jesus really said, you’ll have to look at the Hebrew idiom, rodfei shalom, “those who pursue peace.”

You might think, “What’s the big deal? It’s still about forgiveness and right relationship with God, isn’t it?” Well, not exactly. You see, the Greek idea of peace is based on the thought that war is the normal state of the world. For the Greeks, peace is the absence of conflict, a temporary reprieve between battles. That is probably the way what you look at peace with God – a halt to the war, a time of relief, in the middle of a battle. If that’s your idea of peace and peacemakers, then you are Greek. This Greek idea leads to pursuit of the balanced life, where all the conflicting elements are brought under control. Greek peace is that place where you no longer have to fight your way through all the competing entanglements of life. If you think of your life as a struggle to get everything balanced correctly, then you are Greek. You view life’s objective in terms of the absence of struggles.

The Hebrew idea of peace is quite different. For the Hebrew, peace is about harmony, not balance. Pursuing peace is about being in tune with God, not walking away from the fight. Since God is in a cosmic battle with evil, the Hebrew concept of peace does not pretend to be about escape from the war. Hebrew peace is fighting alongside God, in tune with His battle plan. Of course, Hebrew peace is also tied to shalom, the critical word for well-being. But this is not well-being in terms of balance. It’s not about getting everything under control so that there aren’t any disturbances in life. Shalom is about harmony, singing the same song that God sings, rejoicing with the angelic hosts in the chorus, “Holy, holy, holy.” Those who pursue peace (the peacemakers) seek spiritual wholeness and well-being, not necessarily an end to stress and disturbance. Peacemaking is the process of healing wounds, first between Man and God and secondly, but just as importantly, between men. Peace is the experience of harmony with God and with each other. It is not simply getting all of your life in order. In fact, life in this world cannot be balanced. That’s what it means to be in a fallen world. Things just never get completely under control. They are essentially broken. But that doesn’t change the Hebrew concept of peace.

The Greek goal is really a hopeless pipe dream. Your life will never be balanced. Something(s) will always be a little off center. But God’s plan is perfect harmony in the midst of a fallen world. In tune with God doesn’t mean no stress or struggle. It means heading in the right direction. It means centered living, not teeter-totter existence. If you pursue peace, then you are blessed. Keep going in God’s direction. Seek, and you will find, a symphony in the strife.

Copyright 2003-2008 © Skip Moen and AtGodsTable.com. All Rights Reserved. AtGodsTable.com

3 comments:

marylou messy said...

If it is my space for God then it rests on Him. God is a God of order so as long as my space is God's then balance and harmony are His as well.

I do not see it as balance in the world, but that every part of my being is in balance with God. If it is not, then I have to confess my sin to God and ask His forgiveness. This brings a sense of "peace".

There is still more. In the solitude is where God tells me what else I might need to do for Him, maybe apologize to a person or become a better steward of my finances. He dictates the way of my life and I must do as He says so that harmony can "sing" through.

All of this is a result of that open space created just for Him!!!! Blessings to all!!!

Julie said...

Joy in the Morning has been working through the six-week study guide for The Life You've Always Wanted. The ideas in this post seem to mirror a lot about what we talked about in our discussion groups this week. God's goal for our lives is not "balance" the way we think of that word. God's goal for us is to "seek first his kingdom and his righteousness" (Matt. 6:33). That doesn't mean we should try to live "unbalanced" lives, but balance itself is not the highest good.

Anonymous said...

With out prayer,God's Word, and the joyful quiet time I spend alone with the Lord I would never be able to even try to balance anything in my life. For me the word balance and harmony means that I have my eyes on the Lord and my mind is not wandering in a thousand places. Like Martha running around her house trying to get everything right for Jesus. Running herself ragged. Jesus says that He will not give us more than we can bear. But many times we take on more than we can bear and that brings us out of balance and harmony with Jesus. We get caught up in doing too much. We forget to take a time-out and have our alone time with the Lord. Mary took time out to be with Jesus and she did it with a joyful heart.Martha asks"don't you care?" Jesus tells Martha that she is upset about many things. She is out of harmony with God's love for her. Where as Mary is not worrying and trying to impress. She is not driven by what the world thinks of her~not driven to be perfect and running herself ragged worrying. Martha does change with Jesus' help. Martha is still serving~but with a joyful heart and Martha really starts to find joy in Jesus and understands His message of unconditional love. Blessings, rose