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THE WORD: Finding peace and hope for the future

In the past two months I have witnessed several situations and encounters that cause me to think that maybe we are not as divided as a country and people as I have come to believe. As pastor of a Baptist church I found myself at a cookout at the home of a family who attends the Methodist church next to mine. One of my deacons shared how he and his wife and several other couples were out to eat with a pastor of a different denomination.

I watched as the pastor for another church led music during vacation bible school week held at Fitzgerald that was in partnership with both Shiloh New Covenant and Payne United Methodist.

The choir from Tearwallet Baptist lead the music at the 11 a.m. service at Fitzgerald Baptist and my wife, kids and I went to a fellowship dinner at Tearwallet. Maybe people are not as different as we have been led to believe. Politics, agendas, hot topic issues aside — we all are human.

All of us are flawed; some are not Christians, some are Christians. Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopal, “saved” and “unsaved” and the list goes on.

At the heart of things we are all looking for relationship, fellowship and community. We all have a basic need to be connected to and with others. The problem is, we are often unwilling to yield in our ways, yield in our opinion and be tolerant of the opinions and ways of others.

The Apostle Paul addressed the need for believers to live in harmony in his letter to the church in Rome. I believe that Christians as a body should extend what Paul teaches to include peace with all people, Christian or not, in an effort to not only “live in harmony with one another,” but to also “live in harmony with ALL people.”

In addressing the church in Rome, the Apostle Paul wrote the following in the book of Romans, Chapter 12 verses 16-19: “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay” says the Lord.”

Do not be proud … Associate with all people … Do not be conceited … Do not repay evil with evil … Do what is right … Do not seek vengeance. Basic living instructions that all people can understand regardless of their faith.

Maybe if we seek relationship instead of ritual, if we seek understanding instead of debate, if we seek community as opposed to selfishness, we might find healing for the past, peace in the present, and hope for the future. Harmony.

REV. BARRY VASSAR is pastor at Fitzgerald Memorial Baptist. He can be reached at fitzgeraldmemorial@gmail.com