This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.
Desiring Jerusalem's Peace
Meditation on Psalm 122: 1, 8
“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD...for my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee”
I used these verses this past Sunday as a call to worship when I led the worship service at Peace PRC. It was the first worship service that I have led where the whole congregation was again present. What a joy to be with fellow believers in worship of our God. We love to go to church!
But we need to pray for the peace of the church. Our Synod meets this week with various protests and appeals before them. The peace of Jerusalem is threatened. What a damper on our joy when there is division, disunity, fighting, and schism in Jerusalem, the city of peace. There is disunity because of sin and our sinful natures. Notice, the Psalmist is not praying for a peace from those outside the church who hate her. The Psalmist prays, “I will now say, peace be within thee.” It is a peace that is desired within the walls, within the gates, and within the palaces of the city of God (vs. 7).
God, a God of peace, has broken down the wall of hostility between himself and his justified people through the giving of his only begotten Son for our salvation. Jesus is the prince of peace. Christ by His Spirit gathers God’s people together in corporate worship, as various members of a body. That body is threatened and does not function well when it fights itself. I know that from my own autoimmune disease. There must be real covenant unity and harmony in the church.
This means that we love one another, pray for one another, worship the one true God in spirit and in truth. How terrible when there is disruption of that unity by snide remarks, gossip and slander against others, or the fighting over which ministers we follow. The Apostle Paul in his first epistle to the Corinthian Church deals with the matter of disharmony and fighting: “contentions among you” (I Cor. 1:11) . One said that he was of Paul; another that he was of Apollos; one of Cephas; and still another dared to say that he was of Christ! “Is Christ divided” (I Cor. 1:13)? The elders of the church must guard against and if necessary, discipline those who bring disunity, slander, and schism in Christ’s body, the church.
Now that we are finally able to worship together in our churches, may we have a desire and fervent prayer for the peace of Jerusalem. “I will now say, Peace be within thee.” While it is a desire expressed to the church, it is a prayer to God. Lord, reign over my mind, my heart, and the words that I speak. It is a personal prayer. The Psalmist says, “I will now say…” May it not only be the pastors in their private and congregational prayers. May it not only be the prayers of the elders as they guard the faith and life of the church. It must be the prayer of every believing child of God. “I will now say, Peace be within thee.” Each true believer needs to pray, knowing the sin within him or herself, how easily words tumble off from our lips, and how sharp and slanderous can be the written page. “God forgive me and help me to be an instrument of peace.”
And of course, as Christ Jesus came to fulfill the Scriptures, the words of our text are in reality the word of Jesus Himself. “I will now say, peace be within thee.” We have the confidence that God will hear us for Jesus’ sake. This humbles us, knowing that it is not our work that creates peace, but it is the grace of God and the Spirit of Christ working in the hearts and minds of believers.
Why is it that we pray for the peace of the church? We love the church. The Psalmist says, “For my brethren and companions’ sake, I will now say, Peace be within thee.” We desire and pray for peace because of the glory of God is at stake. God hates division, strife, and fighting in His church. God is glorified when God’s saints love and labor together in the gospel because it is all possible by His Word and Spirit.
We desire and pray for Jerusalem’s peace because we care for one another as saints. There is an unbreakable bond between brothers and sisters in the church family. We do not just care about our own interests, but we uphold one another in our thoughts and prayers. As brothers and sisters in faith, we prosper (vs. 7) when there is peace. When there is fighting, suspicion of one another, and even avoidance of one another, the joy of worshipping together is seriously hurt.
We desire and pray for peace in the church for our witness before the world. How our enemies are filled with derision when they hear or see fighting, slander, and disunity among God’s people. Why would anyone want to attach themselves with that kind of body? Why would even our children desire to remain in that kind of body? Those who trouble the church do not show a love for God, a love for Jesus Christ, or love for their fellow saints. There will always be conflicts in the church because we are sinners who have to daily fight against our sinful natures. We forgive one another for our sinful attitudes, words, and actions. Redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ and indwelt with his Spirit and Word, we strive for, desire, labor, and pray for the peace of house of God.
“How good and pleasant is the sight when brethren make it their delight to dwell in blest accord;
Such love in peace and joy distils, As o’er the slopes of Hermon’s hills refreshing dew descends:
The Lord command his blessing there, And they that walk in love shall share, In life that never ends” (Psalm 133).
Rev. Audred Spriensma (Wife: Alva)
Ordained: January 1981
Pastorates: Atwood, MI CRC - 1981; Bethany, S.Holland, IL CRC - 1984; Grandville, MI - 1992; Missionary to the Philippines - 2002; Kalamazoo, MI - 2007; Byron Center, MI - 2010; Home missionary (Byron Center PRC), 2017Website: www.prca.org/missions/domestic
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