Thursday, March 21, 2013

God of Peace

Romans 16:17-20 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.  18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.  19 For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.  20 And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

We have been making our way through the fruit of the Spirit. If you have the Spirit of God, then these virtues, these fruits will be evident in your life.  They may not yet be fully mature but they will be evident and growing. You will love God and love your neighbor. You will have a sense of a calm delight in the will of God, rejoicing in His work in your life and submitting yourself to His will. This is joy in the Lord.
         Today, we look at peace. If you belong to God, then the peace of God, the peace of the Gospel and peace on Earth, will be evident in your life.  We need to be clear about what we mean by peace. I do not mean a Buddhist style of inner peace. This sort of inner peace can be part of the fruit of peace but it is not its essence. This is important because the Christian faith has become largely focused on individualism, on self. Thus, it would make sense that peace would then be described as mostly an inner peace.
         But the gospel is described as the gospel of peace. This sort of peace means peace with God and peace with men. Only if you have truly made peace with God can you be truly at peace with other men. And I readily admit that peace with God creates a calm delight in His presence, something I have described as joy, which also manifests itself in an inner calm repose, peace. But we should not confuse this calm repose, a peaceful feeling, with peace, itself.
By peace we mean the absence of adversarial conflict. When we make peace with God surrendering fully to His will, we remove the means of adversarial conflict. That is, we stop warring with Him and we start serving Him. God, Himself, was at odds with us until we submitted to Him. He made the way for the truce by sending Jesus to be the means of this peace. He died on the cross to put away the wrath of God against sin and sinners. This provided a way for us to come to Him and lay down our weapons of war and receive a complete and total pardon. When we did this, we transferred our allegiance from the realm of the devil and self to allegiance to Jesus Christ and His kingdom. Thus, the war between us and God ended and peace ensued.
Just as love is twofold, we are to love God and love our neighbor, so is peace. In fact, in the Bible we are told that love of neighbor is all of the law and gospel. If we truly love our neighbor as ourselves then it proves that we love God.
This twofold aspect is equally true with peace. If we have peace with God then we will strive for peace with our neighbor. If we truly are at peace with our neighbor then it shows that we are necessarily at peace with God. The reverse is also true. If we say that we are at peace with God but we are not at peace with our neighbor then we are lying. If you are at war with your neighbor then you have not made your peace with God.

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