Have you ever tried saying something meaningful when there is conflict in the room? If your team is uneasy or your group is uncomfortable with itself, your attempts at achievement will become lost in the noise of battle.
There are some who claim to be energised by the competitive or combative element in work; they may be, but the point is that they feel comfortable with combat, and it is that comfort which enables them to achieve.
The truth of the matter is that much more can be done inside boundaries of safety than in the chaos of conflict.
In your ‘in between’ time, if you are at war, then the new birth coming your way will need the nourishment of peace – the second ingredient in the amniotic fluid as we reflect on the personal and global implications of the Intertestamental Period (ITP).
Listen to these words “Hedged in by the sea, ocean or long, rivers throughout. Legions, fleets, provinces, all were fitly linked together” (Tacitus, Annals, 1.9). This was a description of the Roman Empire through the eyes of a great historian.
For the previous 300 years, there had been power struggles, intrigues, wars, infighting and treachery. Julius Cesar was murdered in 44 BC, but by the time of Christ, there was an Empire of peace in charge; it is even called the Pax Romana – or to be specific it was the Pax Augusta.
This peace consisted of a complex and clever imposition of power and freedom;cross the power and you felt the wrath of the legions; cooperate with it and opportunities could open up.
Right at the centre stood Rome and in the centre of Rome was a golden milestone. From this point roads were built, which reached all parts of the Empire. These roads were built for the speedy transport of troops, news and merchants. It is for a good reason that we retain the phrase ‘All roads lead to Rome’.
So as the Nazarene is born in Bethlehem, the Way himself arrives. If anyone is going to hear about this outside the tiny towns of Judea, the news would need to travel on Roman roads through a harmonised and peaceful empire, and that’s exactly what happened; meaning spread without the noise of war or the impossibility of travel; even 40 years previously this would have been impossible.
So we watch God setting up an infrastructure of peace, clever government and roads along which the message of the Prince of Peace (upon whose shoulders is government, and via whom there is a way) can travel.
It’s a brilliant strategy and has lessons dripping from it for your nourishment. Remember we are looking at it as an ‘in between’ time, represented by the blank page in your bible. It appears there is nothing happening, but it is a workshop of activity.
For your ‘in between’ time, you will need to find peace before new birth (I am not referring to the new birth of starting the Christian life, but a new era in your life). You will need to find pathways – pathways to your soul, pathways to your God, pathways to your future. You will need to embark on a peace-making mission and a road building programme.
Mercifully, as we saw with the need for language, you work each day with a God who has global expertise in both the areas of peacemaking and road building.
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
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