Theology Thursday: God’s Pattern to Live in Peace

Woman looking up after reading her Bible in a field of flowers for spiritual cleansing

“Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.” - Mark 9:50, ESV 

Jesus’ instructions to His disciples to live in peace is a reminder of the Lord’s will for His people. Disciples of Jesus should be at peace with one another and with those around them. The New Testament records several times the instruction to "be at peace with one another" is used.

The Lesson of Purity in Spiritual Purification

“For everyone will be salted with fire.” - Mark 9:49, ESV

The reference to salt in this verse is a common element of this world, salt from the Dead Sea. Salt was a necessary item for survival in this region of the world at the time of Christ. Salt was used as both a seasoning and a preservative. When it no longer had flavor, it was useless for either one.

But to truly understand the meaning of this verse, one must back up just a bit. Jesus’ words to his followers about being “salted with fire” (Mark 9:49, ESV) referred to the need of those who would follow Christ to be purified, as fire was a reference for purification. Jesus then assures his listeners that this salt (purification) is “good.” It is useful and healthy, for the spiritual life of the believer in his/her walk with God. Every disciple of Christ has the need for this spiritual purification.

The Mark of Purity in Spiritual Cleansing

Jesus instructs his disciples to “be at peace with one another” (Mark 9:50, ESV). It appears as an odd place to add the instruction to be at peace with one another, with the warning about purification from sin, but it is not as odd as we think. Salt, in this metaphor, symbolized the spiritual cleansing (or purification) of the disciple.

This purification is the dominant trait of a disciple of Christ. Jesus emphasized the need for this spiritual purification because he was concerned for the world and wanted to reach the world for the Kingdom. The disciple of Christ was the vehicle God was going to use to win the world for Christ.

Disciples have a responsibility to Christ and the Kingdom to not lose this “saltiness” quality. Jesus’ command to “be at peace with one another” is consistent with this quality of the disciple. What sets us as disciples apart from the world is this “saltiness.” Strife and discord are inconsistent with this quality of saltiness, and the instruction from Jesus is to not lose this purification.

Jesus was also addressing the contentious attitude of the disciples as to who was going to be the greatest among them (Mark 9:33-34, ESV). Jesus was warning His disciples of the potential to lose their saltiness and their witness in the world if strife and factions develop.

The Power of Purity from Spiritual Cleansing

In various places of the New Testament, to “live in peace” is mentioned as a reminder of the disciples’ responsibility. In Romans 12:18 and 14:19, the instruction to “be at peace with all men” appears. The need to live in peace is also found in 2 Corinthians 13:11 and 1 Thessalonians 5:13 where we see the command to “be at peace among yourselves.”

In short, Jesus was instructing us to focus our eyes on Him as He purifies us and helps us grow spiritually. Then, and only then, can we maintain peace among ourselves as His followers.

Our influence and ability to win the world for Christ depends on our harmony with one another. Conflict and discord are avoided or resolved when disciples recognize a common commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ and to His gospel. The lost world then sees a church that is both fully committed to Christ and works to live in peace with all.

Want more? Check out the GCU theology and ministry blog page and our theology degree programs. To start your educational journey at our Christian college, click on the Request Info button at the top of your screen for more details. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.