This is post #15 of a series entitled Peacemakers for the Cause of Christ – Facilitators of God’s Peace in a World Looking for Peace. We hope you’ll enjoy these 31 podcasts and blogs that focus on our great need in today’s society for peacemakers; men, women, and children who are willing to step away from all the contempt, division, and hatred, and step in toward the blessed call of being Christ-centered peacemakers for the greater glory of God. Here you’ll find very practical and biblically-sound advice on building bridges instead of walls, offering hope instead of despair. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
Click on the link below to listen to the podcast version of this blog!
Truth #5: Peacemakers Practice the Presence of God’s Peace.
Today’s Lectio Divina: So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. Colossians 3: 12-17 (MsgB)
As I see it, for those of us who are looking for a good role model when it comes to a true peacemaker for the cause of Christ, we don’t need to look too much further than a visit to Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.
In his day, Fred Rogers was seen primarily as a TV personality focused exclusively on a children’s audience. But today, nearly 20 years after his death at the age of 74 (2003), his popularity has exploded. In the last few years, there have been two major Hollywood releases that focus on Fred Rogers and his amazing kindness. In 2018, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, director Morgan Neville’s documentary about Rogers’ life, grossed over $22 million and became the top-grossing biographical documentary ever produced. The 2019 drama film A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, which brought yet another Oscar nomination to Tom Hanks, tells the powerful story of how Rogers’ pro-active care and compassion changed one man’s life for the good.
Fred’s biographer, Maxwell King (The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers) says this about this recent rise of popularity:
Whenever a great tragedy strikes—war, famine, mass shootings, or even an outbreak of populist rage—millions of people turn to Fred’s messages about life. Then the web is filled with his words and images. With fascinating frequency, his written messages and video clips surge across the internet, reaching hundreds of thousands of people who, confronted with a tough issue or ominous development, open themselves to Rogers’ messages of quiet contemplation, of simplicity, of active listening and the practice of human kindness.
Today’s Lectio Divina from Colossians 3, when read in Eugene Peterson’s Message Bible translation, always reminds me of the opening scene of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood where Fred would come through the front door dressed as a businessman, but over the next three minutes or so, he would transform himself into a kind, compassionate teacher/listener who always had time for both me and the countless others who would visit the Neighborhood. This intentional transformation was symbolized by Fred through the changing of his shoes (from business black to comfy tennies), and from a stuffy suit coat to a comfy warm red sweater. So in actuality, as an ordained Presbyterian pastor, Fred was acting out on public television, the literal fulfillment of our passage today (Colossians 3: 12-17) dressing himself in the wardrobe picked out for him by God.
If you’ve never explored the life and ministry of Fred Rogers, I would suggest that you do so as part of your growth in the world of Christ-centered peacemaking. Author Amy Hollingsworth got to know Fred Rogers back in the day and has written a marvelous book, The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers: Spiritual Insights from the World’s Most Beloved Neighbor (2007), exploring Fred’s dedication to Christ and the deep well of spirituality he drew from every day in his on-going work as a children’s educator.
One of the quotes I love from this book comes from the well-known NBC-TV journalist, Tom Brokaw…
Mister Rogers was an ordained minister, but he never talked about God on his program. He didn’t need to.
Isn’t it interesting that so many Christians go around saying they are doing good for the cause of Christ, yet to Fred Rogers, simply wearing the clothing God had laid out for him;
Compassion, Kindness, Humility, Quiet Strength, Discipline, Even-Temperedness, Content with Second Place, Forgiveness, Love, Peace, and Thankfulness…
My wife, Sandy, has a favorite expression that she uses when teaching on Colossians 3…
Dress for where you are going.
Hmm. So, what about you?
Where are you going today? And how are you dressing yourself in the wardrobe that God has laid out for you?
My Prayer: Father God, thank you for men and women who have gone before me, modeling this work of being a peacemaker for the greater glory of God. Your precious Son, Jesus of Nazareth, is, of course, my best source, yet there have been so many others over the centuries as well. Fred Rogers, certainly is one person in my lifetime who took his role as peacemaker seriously and walked it out in quietness, strength and humility. May I do likewise. For Your Name’s sake. Amen.
A Few Questions to Ponder: In a recent interview, the Dali Lama, encouraged those who want to make a true difference in their world to “practice warm-heartedness.” What might it look like for me, one who desires to live for the glory of Jesus, to practice warm-heartedness? How might my words and actions be different today if I were more serious about this call to dressing the part as a peacemaker? Might Fred’s warm red sweater be a good place to start?
*This is the sixth in a variety of practical suggestions/resources we will make throughout this blog/podcast series. We call these exercises:
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4: 9 (NIV)
Tool #6: Lectio Divina.
This week, as we discuss the great need to practice Jesus’ presence of peace deeply within our own lives, allow us to give you three practical spiritual formation tools that have greatly aided us in our journey with Jesus. These are ancient tools used by Christ-followers for centuries and we believe they can come in handy for you along the way as well.
For a complete overview of how to get started in the spiritual discipline of Lectio Divina, click here.
So, how are you experiencing God’s presence as you are becoming a peacemaker for the cause of Christ?
Peacemakers for the Cause of Christ – Facilitators of God’s Peace in a World Looking for Peace.
We hope you’ll enjoy these 31 podcasts and blogs that focus on our great need in today’s society for peacemakers; men, women, and children who are willing to step away from all the contempt, division, and hatred, and step in toward the blessed call of being Christ-centered peacemakers for the greater glory of God. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!