PEACE MAKES THE DIFFERENCE IN OUR STANCE
Wednesday, December 7th
Stubborn: performed or carried on in an unyielding, obstinate, or persistent manner; difficult to handle, manage, or treat
Steadfast: firmly fixed in place; not subject to change; firm in belief, determination, or adherence; loyal
Keep alert; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
(1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NRSVUE)
Our youth group used this Bible verse as our guiding theme during a mission trip years ago. We hoped to deepen in faith and trust, to stand firm and strong – in Christ and for Christ – as we served in love. I believe we all learned new ways to stand firm during that week of challenging work. I hope the people we served were able to see the strength of our faith, the strength of our Christ, that enabled the love of our hearts.
How do we best “stand firm in the faith”? How do we courageously live so that others may witness the strength of Christ in us? Today’s adjectives, stubborn and steadfast, both describe a firm stance, but their differences serve as a reminder for us in this week of Advent Peace.
When I become stubborn in my stance, I notice that I am inwardly focused, more concerned about my pride, my need to be right, my need to be justified. This is when my stance can become obstinate and difficult. When I remain steadfast, my stance is outwardly focused, concerned about serving God and others. This is when my stance can remain determined and loyal.
One can see this difference in the stances of faithful people today…
For some, standing firm in faith is having the courage to defend biblical law.
For others, standing firm in faith is having the courage to promote merciful grace.
Both of these are firm stances.
One is the stubborn stance of unyielding belief.
The other is the steadfast stance of unwavering love.
Our Advent Peace – the life of Jesus – shows us how to remain firmly steadfast in unwavering love. Jesus demonstrated his steadfast faith in God through his defiant silence, gentle corrections, confident rebuttals, buffering presence, gracious words, and righteous anger – through his actions birthed in love more than law. There were times when Jesus even broke sabbath law in order to love and care for others.
Advent Peace helps us let go of our need to be right, so that God can reveal what needs to be done.
We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.1
May the Advent Peace we have in Christ help us to stand firm and steadfast in our faith.
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7 NRSVUE)
1Madeleine L’Engle, Madeleine L’Engle Herself: Reflections on a Writing Life