Keeping “Peace on earth” at Holiday Family Gatherings

Family together at ChristmasThe entire holiday season… Thanksgiving, Christmas, through New Years… is a time when families often get together.  Idealistic images of times like this fill the media, its advertising and greeting cards.  The facts are, however, that these times often degenerate into times of conflict.  Old wounds, disagreements, and differences of opinion surface and unpleasant fracases surface.  You’ve seen it happen I’m sure!

Hey, it even happens among Christians… Those of whom our Savior said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35 ESV)

What prompted this reflection and word of caution was my Bible reading this morning during “coffee with the Lord” – 1 John 4:19 – 5:3…

“We love each other because He loved us first.  If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?  And He has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.  Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves His children, too.  We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments.  Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome to us.”

In the passage it seems like Apostle John was speaking to a “spiritual family” (who sometimes are more like a “family” than they like to admit!)  In the passage he urged them not only love their “Heavenly Parent” (i.e. their “Heavenly Father”) and obey Him, but to show it by loving one another.  In other words, you can almost picture the Heavenly Father saying… “Com’on!  Listen to me!  Obey what I’m telling you!  Get along with each other!  No, more than that, love one another!  Lay aside petty differences that you have and the things that always cause conflict among yourselves, and love one another!”

So I guess the message for all of us who claim to be followers of Jesus during this holiday season is… Be careful!  And don’t do or say anything that will cause unnecessary conflict… In fact, go out of your way to demonstrate Christ-like love and be a “peacemaker” (Matthew 5:9; Hebrews 12:14)!  Seems like good advice to me – and the Christian thing to do – as we approach our “family gatherings” this Holiday season!

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