Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.
Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
What if Christians vowed to stop killing each other? What if we saw our faith as deeper than our other allegiances to the point that we would not kill others in war, if they are also Christians. How many of the world’s major battles could have been avoided had the Church taken its teachings seriously? Yes it’s hard to love our enemies – but we’ve got to start somewhere. What if we learned to pursue peace and reconciliation with other Christians that we don’t necessarily agree with or whom we have a dispute with? Learning to reconcile such differences peacefully might go a long way in teaching us how to actually love our enemies. I’m convinced that despite whatever you might think about war and violence, Christians are not to kill other Christians. What a great start that might make towards God’s shalom coming on earth as it is in heaven!
To this end, this brief passage from James offers much practical wisdom: be patient, strengthen your hearts (for the hard work of patience), and do not grumble with one another. This practical wisdom is offered in light of this Advent insight: the Lord is coming, indeed, the Lord is near. James does not want his readers to be caught unawares at the immanent coming of the Lord. Instead he helpfully describes Jesus’s followers as farmers, patiently waiting upon their crops, caring for the land, paying attention to weather and other conditions. To harvest a crop, you must first cultivate it. Elsewhere, James says, “a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.” (James 3:18) I love that verse. Peace will only be harvested if it is sown. And why sew it? Because we are called to do so, it’s what God desires, and God is drawing near.
Today as you pray, pray for peace. Pray that God’s shalom would come on earth as it is in heaven. Pray that you would know peace in your own life. Finally, pray that God would make you an instrument of God’s peace, by allowing you to sew peace. Ask God if there is someone you need to pursue reconciliation with. And then, if there is, do so! Odds are, there’s a friend, family member, or even your spouse that you need to reconcile with – and yes, that almost always involves asking for forgiveness and offering forgiveness. Mutual forgiveness is key to peacemaking. Ask God who you might pursue reconciliation with, and then do it. In this way, you will sew peace. Remember, when you sew peace, a harvest of righteousness awaits you!