January 7, 2021 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
Once again, we have been reminded this week we live in a sinful and broken world. The storming of and rioting at the Capitol Building yesterday grieves and confounds and discourages us. As followers of Christ, whose citizenship is in heaven, we are guided by a different set of values. Our King has laid out those values in what have come to be known as the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12). As I reflect on this list again, the seventh value stands out to me: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (v. 9).
Notice that our identity in relationship with God is not contingent on our ethnicity, political persuasion, education level, socio-economic status, or gender. Jesus directly links our identity as “sons of God” to our moral ability to be “peacemakers.” This Beatitude encourages us to ponder the wealth of biblical teaching on peace. Let’s consider what the Bible has to say about peace.
- Peace is God’s Creation; There is No Peace Apart from God. Paul identifies our Heavenly Father as the “God of peace” (1 Thes. 5:23) and “Lord of peace” (2 Thes. 3:16). The only promise of everlasting peace in Scripture is tied to the promise of the Messiah, the “Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end” (Is. 9:6-7). Paul identifies peace as a part of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22), meaning that, apart from the Spirit, we cannot make peace. Our peace in relationship with God is contingent on the work of Christ (Rom. 5:1); we cannot make peace with God on our own. Therefore, to be a “peacemaker” we need God and Jesus.
- Since Peace is God’s Creation, It Is Appropriate and Good to Lament the Lack of Peace and Pray for Peace. The lack of peace demonstrates the lack of reliance on God, the lack of influence from God. Ultimately, lack of peace demonstrates resistance to God and his ways. Therefore, we ought to lament the lack of peace in our homes, church, community, nation, and world. And we should be praying for peace, just as Paul prayed, “May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way” (2 Thes. 3:16). A part of being a “peacemaker” is beseeching the “Lord of peace” to give peace.
- Followers of Christ can be at Peace, Even in the Midst of Tribulation. This is the explicit promise of Jesus in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Therefore, peace in Christ is not contingent on the circumstances of our lives or this world. Peace springs from resting in Christ. Paul alludes to this when he says that as we make our requests known to God, “And the peace of God will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7). Peacemakers find peace by resting in Christ.
- The Church, as the body of Christ, is to be Marked by Peace. Christ, who is our peace, has broken down the dividing wall of hostility among us, so making peace (Eph. 2:14-15). Therefore, we are called to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3), a peace we do not create, but maintain. In a sense, we should not be too surprised when there is a lack of peace in a world that largely rejects God. It is more disappointing and sadder when followers of Christ do not live at peace with one another, since he is the source of our peace. It is not surprising, though; we are still sinners, afflicted by the corruption of sin that lingers in our hearts.
- While Peace is God’s Creation, Followers of Christ Have the Responsibility, by the Strength and Assistance of the Holy Spirit Working through the Gospel, to be Peacemakers. There are many direct commands to the church to pursue peace. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Rom. 12:18). “Let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Rom. 14:19). “Be at peace among yourselves” (1 Thes. 5:13). “Strive for peace with everyone” (Heb. 12:14). If you are a follower of Christ, it is not optional to be a peacemaker.
So, what “makes for peace”? “With patience, bear with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2). “Speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another” (Eph. 4:31-32). These things make for peace.
For this is how God made peace with us. He bears with us in patience and in love. He speaks truth to us in love. He took all of our bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander and put them away on his Son on the cross. He is kind and tenderhearted toward us. And he forgives us in Christ. Therefore, we have peace with God.
Finding peace with God leads to peace with others. May we, as followers of Christ, be marked by peace, even in the midst of turbulence and tribulation in the world around us.