Friday, April 26, 2013

Counterfeit Peace

Snakefruit (or salak) is rough and scaly on the outside. But if you work through to the inside of a ripe fruit, the flesh has an interesting, tangy taste that admittedly not everyone appreciates. I have discovered, though that snakefruit makes an absolutely delicious substitution for apples in a pie if you cook them slightly first. Like seeking peace in the midst of difficult relationships, the outcome is well worth the effort.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23)
May I ask you a question? Yes? OK. Now, please take time to answer it to yourself before reading on.
What characterizes your life when peace is lacking?
Do you have an answer? Most likely, your first thoughts contained words like “frantic, turmoil, tension, fighting, shouting, indigestion”. When we think of a life lacking in peace, we often think in opposites. Things that are so different that there is no doubt peace is lacking.
In this series, we are not looking at the easily recognizable opposites to each of the fruits of the Spirit. We are looking at the counterfeits to the “real deal” spiritual fruit that the world...or Satan...tries to pass off as genuine.

Paul tells us this in Romans.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
(Romans 12:18)
That’s a pretty tall order to fill. How can we be at peace with people who have hurt us? With people who have behaved badly? With people who, at some point, have made us very uncomfortable?
The strategy we often use to find some measure of peace is …avoidance. Frankly, it is easier to just stay away from people or situations that have given us difficulty in the past. I certainly know I have done this...more times than I can count, I'm sure. I suggest to you, that this is not the way to find true peace. Avoidance is Satan’s very clever counterfeit to God’s peace.
I want to make something perfectly clear. I am not speaking here about situations where people have been horribly abused in some way by another. I fully realize that there are times when it would be foolhardy for a victim to expose himself or herself to further harm. Let's not let that issue detract from what I believe is an important point.
When God's People Mess Up

I am speaking of the vast majority of situations we face where God’s children simply mess up and hurt each other. We don’t mean to hurt each other. We don’t intend to inflict pain. But it happens. This is reality.
Perhaps we are reacting out of our own pain, and that pain splashes out onto others around us. Perhaps someone else’s pain has splashed out onto us. Whatever the cause, there is hurt. There is pain. And peace flies out the window.
Genuine Peace or Counterfeit Peace
In the country where I live, it is culturally normal to use avoidance as a primary strategy when one person offends another. The offended person will pointedly ignore the one who wronged them. They will refuse to make eye contact. Basically, the offended one will completely write off the offender. All this is an effort to guard and protect themselves from being hurt again. It is an attempt to find some measure of peace.
Yet this is not peace. Not really. Avoidance is counterfeit peace. Peace is not merely the absence of conflict. Peace involves reconciliation. Peace involves restoration. Peace is one of the spiritual fruits that should characterize our relationships with other believers.
With genuine peace between believers: 
  • We are a mighty spiritual army. 
  • We can advance against Satan and everything he tries to do to wreck our lives.  
  • We are positioned to defeat the one who holds captive people around us who Jesus wants to set free with His love.
Satan's Two-Fold Strategy
Satan knows this. He knows that when believers in Jesus are united and in step with our Lord, we are a formidable force against which he cannot stand. No wonder Satan works so hard to cause strife and division between believers. His strategy is two-fold.
Develop Division
Wherever believers are most active in sharing the Good News of Jesus with others, Satan will certainly, absolutely, and predictably concentrate his efforts to sabotage peace and unity.
Advocate Avoidance
Once that initial damage is done, Satan’s next strategy is to convince God’s people that the best way to find peace is to avoid the person who caused the hurt. To stay away from the painful situation.
Unfortunate Outcomes
Avoidance does not bring genuine peace. The trouble still lies there under the surface. Perhaps, with the passage of time, we may almost forget it even exists. Yet it remains. It never leaves. It is never resolved.
Avoiding dealing with a problem may take a form resembling a pocket of hot lava. Perhaps it eventually erupts like a volcano causing still more damage. Satan celebrates. God aches.

This strategy may take a form more like a blockage in a pipe that is supposed to bring life-giving water to thirsty people. You may be able to get a trickle through for a while, but eventually even that trickle will stop. Satan laughs with glee. Jesus weeps.

Avoidance might create a situation similar to a severed phone line. The connection between believers is broken by some stormy episode. Friendship, caring, encouragement, prayer, and all those “one-anothers” that should characterize relationships between believers comes to a halt. Isolation is the result. Satan rejoices. The Holy Spirit grieves.

Choose Peace
Brothers and sisters in Christ…let’s NOT allow our enemy to have his way in us, and between us. When we face conflict, especially between fellow believers, let’s not settle for Satan’s counterfeit fruit of avoidance. Let’s choose…(and it IS a choice)… God’s “real deal” fruit of “peace that passes all understanding”.
Time for Reflection

  • Is there some difficult relationship in your life where you have been settling for avoidance instead of genuine peace?
  • What metaphor comes closest to describing your situation, either as it is now, or as it is likely to be if left to continue? (erupting volcano, blocked water pipe, severed phone line) 
  • What is one thing you could do today to make a move toward genuine peace?
    (I challenge you to dig into God's Word, and seek His wisdom for how to do this.)
 (Snakefruit photo taken from


  1. Growing up a PK, I've seen almost all of these situations pan out. Personally, I'm a lava erupter. When division (devil's usual tactic for me) comes around, I usually blow up before I realize I'm being attacked.

    1. I don't often erupt after avoiding dealing with a problem. I tend to avoid first...and end up isolating myself from the other person. And when that is happening, certainly I am not clear channel for God's love to flow through to others. I've got to watch that. Somehow, it seems more "spiritual" to "maintain peace" by avoiding dealing with a problem. I don't think it really is. Erupting right away or avoiding first (with whatever outcome)...neither one brings real peace.

    2. I suppose a big thing is to catch ourselves when we start to either erupt or withdraw and recognize that the enemy is not the other person. Not really. Not ultimately. Maybe, if we can realize that, both sides can be more willing to join together to fight the one who is trying to defeat us all.


Any thoughts on this post? I would love to hear from you.

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