Friday, January 18, 2013

Peace

Peace.  As I think about Galatians 5:22, this particular fruit sometimes seems the furthest from me, the most difficult to apply.  It was only weeks ago that a troubled young man killed 20 children in an elementary school.  Every day, there is more news about war in the Middle East, terrorists killing innocents, murder on the rise.  How can we have peace in a world like this?


Jesus gives us the answer. "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful" (John 14:27).  The world dangles peace like a carrot on a stick.  We can see the idea of peace, but it keeps drawing further from us. Jesus doesn't give peace like the world does.  Jesus gives us an eternal peace that we can have right now, and he tells us how we can grow peace as a fruit of the Spirit in our lives and spread it to those around us.

To begin with, Jesus offers peace between man and God.  "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God" (Romans 5:1-2). In this sense, Jesus is the ultimate peacemaker.  We can't hope to be in the presence of God, much less at peace with Him, without the blood of Jesus to cleanse our sins.  We give all sorts of names to this idea, both Biblical and human.  Propitiation, bridge, reconciliation.  However, the word peace, here in Romans and also in Colossians 1 gives us a beautiful picture of what Jesus died to provide.

Having peace with God should change our whole outlook because it means that the world can't touch us.  I don't mean that we will never be at the wrong end of someone's sin.  A robber could shoot me tonight, but that won't change my status with God.  I will still have peace with Him, and if I die, I'll get to be with Him.  I don't even have to worry about who will take care of my children.  God has the hairs of their head numbered, and He will continue to watch over them long after I am gone. Having peace with God changes my world of worry into a world of peace. That is part of what Paul meant when he said. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).

As we live in peace in a world full of conflict, people may ask us questions.  When they do, we can follow Jesus's command to be a peacemaker. Since Jesus is the way to peace, spreading the good news about him is spreading peace.  If a friend or family member asks us how we can have so much peace in this world, we need to be prepared to give her the answer (1 Peter 3:15).   If she chooses to follow Christ, she will have that peace too.

Here is where it gets tricky, though.  If our friend chooses not to follow Jesus, peace between us may be more difficult to achieve.  Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 10 that He came to bring a sword.  When I first found that verse in my list of scriptures about peace, it really threw me off.  I thought we had established that Jesus did come to bring peace?  As I read on, I realized the difference.  Jesus makes peace between man and God, but those who choose to follow Christ may be in conflict with those who deliberately turn their back on Him.  In the United States, that might mean an uncomfortable family reunion.  In some countries, it means being disowned or even killed.  That is why Jesus said he came to bring a sword.  As Christians we have peace, but living the Christian life is not easy, and sharing His peace may put us in the cross hairs of hatred.

One of my favorite hymns is "Peace, Perfect Peace."  It is a soothing one to sing to my children, and an easy tune to follow.  Perhaps my favorite part of the song is that the name of Jesus is mentioned in every verse.  Where can we find peace?  Only in Christ.  How can we share peace?  By sharing Christ.  In this way, we can be peacemakers and truly be called children of God.


Melissa
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission 

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