Come near to God and He will come near to you. James 4:8
The Bible speaks of people enjoying themselves--at weddings, welcome-home occasions, parties, outings, trips. Families had a good time when they grouped together to travel up to Jerusalem for the festivals. The psalms of ascent reflect their joy, as David declares, "I rejoiced with those who said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the LORD'" (Psalm 122:1). When in the Holy City, the people built booths or arbours to occupy for a week during the Feast of Tabernacles. We can imagine that the children especially enjoyed this "camping out" experience.
But some events were not enjoyable, like wars and the starvation sieges often preceding them. Under no circumstances are wars like picnics. When the first battle of Manassas was about to be fought at the outset of the Civil War, many people in Washington, D.C., including congressmen, thought it would be an interesting thing to watch. They came out in carriages, bringing basket lunches and wines. The "outing" ended in a rout, for both the Union troops and the spectators.
Wars, including the bloodless ones sometimes waged in the church, are no picnics. This is true especially when sin causes these controversies. Saint James asks, "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight" (James 4:1-2). Saint James knows of a much better way to receive what we want and need: Pray to God for it.
By contrast, how blest are congregations when Christ's peace prevails! The psalmist declares, "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!" (Psalm 133:1). This truly is Christ's peace, for He earned it for us on the cross. Saint Paul writes, "Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). Peace with God is the basis for peace among ourselves.
PRAYER: Lord God, give me a full measure of the joy of salvation that is mine in Christ Jesus. Amen.