PEACE?

The Bible has a LOT to tell us about peace, the Prince of Peace, the peace of God which surpasses straight intellectual ability (“understanding”) and things that make for peace. The kicker seems obvious- for each of us individuals to find and maintain peace with God or there simply is no peace. If peace inside of us relationally with Him isn’t happening, neither it is likely with others unless they happen to already be in agreement with us, choose to not disagree with us, or avoid issues that break the sense of peace between ourselves and them.

I don’t know about you but in my early years of following Jesus and threaded right until this writing in 2021 I do occasional Bible studies focusing on a key word, sometimes a phrase of two or more words as it laces through scripture. It is essential to do so slowly and in prayer taking the time to truly meditate not only on a given term or verse but the verses surrounding it to seek a fuller context and hopefully get to a closer view of the human author’s (and therefore God’s) intent of meaning. We must also consider the historical context and more, but you get my drift.

A friend of mine asked for input on a message he was soon to bring about peace and to challenge folks who often fence-sit avoiding or perhaps even denying the issues of a broken peace when Jesus Himself says “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5.9)

That is, a mark of a true Christian is not only inner peace but those who think, pray, seek and work in the practical boots-on-ground world to make, to create peace. In a world broken by the fall and divided since Adam broke fellowship with God in the garden this is not easy and often simply overlooked if not discarded, yes, even by Christians. Interesting that Jesus, according to Matthew tells us peacemaking is a mark of a true child of God.

I’ve been a pastor most of my life, have traveled a large part of the world having met and continued decades of friendship with all sorts of pastors and other leaders in a wide, wide range of church types and can tell you peacemaking is not easy. The lack of peace is as common a concern, lament and prayer request as any I’ve heard from Christian leaders.

Unmet expectations, hardcore sin issues, “natural” disasters, violence, war, racism, economic havoc, pandemics and petty disagreements that fester and steam up in local congregations -topped off by hurt, angry (or both all at once) folks who demand the leader “FIX THIS” to their individual sense of justice and desire make the spiritual gift and calling of anyone in leadership quite a pill. Such (and I’ve only touched on a portion of the fairly typical stuff here) can steal the peace of a person who believes God has given at least in part, the job of peacemaking among people who in some cases even perpetually seem empty of it!

Then there is “peace, peace when there IS no peace” (Jeremiah 6.14; 8:11; Ezekiel 13.10 and 16) which I am quoting to say sometimes people proclaim a peace that isn’t real, doesn’t currently exist in that time, space and attitude among people.

Back to personal, individual peace with God. Without it, it -ain’t-.

The night I came to saving faith in Jesus I experienced what I often mention in one or two words what I immediately, shockingly felt: deep relief! Another totally accurate, fitting word I could use is PEACE. I had never sensed it before, nothing like it. It has been for the most part something that has accompanied me ever since, at this point over fifty years later. AMAZING.

I like some of my friends attended marches for peace in the Vietnam War era, tried on some level to make peace in bands I was part of where all sorts of disagreements and craziness blew up relationships and caused a treadmill of different players in and out of the groups.

There are those in my nation who have supported every war, others supporting none of them and some like myself who have agreed with the rationale and deployment of some and not others, those who support the troops no-matter-what and those who do not no-matter-what. This is true even among professing followers of Jesus…

I suggest to you it is a deeper unity and not uniformity of thought, not tacit agreement on all matters and above all else peace in one’s heart and conscience with God in relationship to Him that must and indeed DOES inform peace with others, at least on our own part. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people.” (Romans 12.18)

We must also square all such Bible truths with other statements about peace including Jesus’ comments such as via Matthew chapter 10:

34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to turn a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a person’s enemies will be the members of his household. 37 “The one who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and the one who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And the one who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 The one who has found his life will lose it, and the one who has lost his life on My account will find it.”

There are Christians who ignore, neglect or outright violate what Jesus says here almost daily and wonder why they have no deep, enduring peace! There is an outright exclusivity to loving Jesus that means disagreement, splits and pain that doesn’t seem to make peace, no?

Which brings us to His two greatest/most important commandments (note, not options…) to love God supremely and love our neighbor as our self… and indeed to love our enemies who often are the very members of our own blood family, household members!

Can one live this out by the grace and power of God’s Spirit? Yes. Is it simple, easy, not a problem? Uhhh… I’d say not so much. And yet- the call of God is for those who claim to know Jesus in authenticity must be peacemakers.

If we or others will not reconcile with God there isn’t much in the way of reconciliation that is likely to happen either. Yet we must and can pray as well as work for peace in this world, for without it there is nothing but misery and unending conflict.

Things to consider on the journey.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

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