The job of a hockey official is not always easy – especially during the Stanley Cup playoffs which we are currently missing. One of the more challenging aspects is keeping the peace between opposing players who get a bit hot under the collar in the heat of the game.
The COVID-19 pandemic, like a hockey game, could be likened to a battle between two opposing forces. But as with a hockey game, there are often various secondary skirmishes that take place on the sidelines. People have different points of view on the origins of the virus; the actions of government, public health and law enforcement officials; the wearing of masks; the rules for social distancing; the extent to which one should disinfect all surfaces – and they express them with great passion and conviction. This often leads to useless arguments.
Christians are not immune from such conflicts. We can get drawn into them like anyone else. Writing to the church in Colossae, Paul had this to say on how to avoid needless and unproductive quarrels.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. (Colossians 3:15)
The literal meaning of the Greek word for “rule” refers to the function of a referee or umpire in an athletic contest. Part of the assignment of officials at sporting events is to keep the players from fighting with each other. Hockey officials usually do this by trying to talk the players down. However the players don’t always listen. Sometimes they just seem to be intent on a fight.
Handled constructively, the expression of different points of view can serve a positive purpose. Unfortunately, some are so committed to making their point that their statements are like declarations of war, seemingly calculated to provoke an explosion. Even those who frame their comments in an entirely reasonable tone find that they sometimes land in a minefield of emotion and the result can be a raging conflict.
I have learned that although I have freedom of speech, it’s wiser to remain silent when a productive dialogue seems impossible to achieve. Even valid insights are of little value if they are hurled at others like weapons of warfare – or even if they are uttered peaceably, but unlikely to be well-received because of the mental state of the hearer.
A wise man wrote that one who is able to rule his own spirit is better than one who can capture a city. I have found that when I take time to listen to Holy Spirit He always leads me into the peace of Jesus.
The other day I went for a bike ride after a long day. I was feeling worn down from work but also from hearing too much information and too many opinions. The Internet can do that to you, especially during a contentious time like this. I told Jesus that I needed Him to speak to me. I think He already knew that, but I needed to say it because I needed to position my heart to listen. It was a beautiful afternoon and as I cycled alongside farm fields, I saw a small bright yellow goldfinch flying just above the drainage ditch. The beauty immediately caused a prayer of thanks to rise from my heart.
I heard the Spirit ask me a question.
Who made all this?
You did, Lord.
The turmoil that I had been carrying in my heart subsided as I recognized the amazing wisdom and power of God that is displayed in His creation. I saw again that God, who made all things, will bring in His Kingdom in His time. He uses storms like the present COVID-19 crisis to bring the nations to submission. Some recognize this and some fight it. I am asking the Lord to discipline and instruct my heart so that I am quick to recognize His wisdom.
We have to choose to abide in the peace of Jesus. It doesn’t come automatically. We can choose to recognize His authority over our lives, and allow His peace to rule our thoughts. When we do this, the result is a fruitful life and open doors to share the life, peace and joy of Jesus with others. This is the wisdom on which I choose to build my life. Nothing else will last. His ways alone will endure.
Come, Lord Jesus.