Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. Luke 12:51-52 NIV
As I celebrated the season of Christ’s supernatural birth in December the Holy Spirit showed me how common the word ‘peace’ is used in both secular and Christian environments. He also showed me how misunderstood and shallow is our use of the word and the concept of peace. Today, as we enter 2020, I begin a three-part blog on this topic.
Throughout the New Testament there exists dichotomy, and seeming inconsistency, as to the concept of ‘peace’. We hear and see slogans regarding ‘peace on earth’, but there is little peace on earth. We see more strife and division than peace and unity. As we enter 2020 we can expect a great deal of global conflict, battles with weapons and words, and deep chasms between belief systems. Peace, as we commonly think of it, will seldom be evident around us. So, what did Jesus accomplish through his death and resurrection regarding peace?
It is clear from scriptures Jesus came to bring peace, primarily between God and mankind. He leaves a deposit of peace for those who will exercise faith to receive it. Jesus reveals and offers a deep personal, emotional, and soul condition of peace that he will not take away. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27NIV). It is not man’s version of peace. It is not a short term armistice. It is an immutable, eternal covenant of peace offering inner stability, calm and steadiness in any situation.
Peace between God and mankind comes to us through our faith in Jesus. We have vertical peace, i.e. between the believer and the Father. Sin can no longer separate us from God’s peace because our justification (i.e. the judgement for sin) is complete through Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand (Romans 5:1-2 NIV). Our faith in Jesus and our believing He has justified us, rendered a verdict on our behalf, activates that inner peace with God. We are not at odds with God because we have the righteousness of God within us. Jesus in us is our righteousness! Therefore our vertical relationship with the Father is secure and peaceful! It is part of the New Covenant!
But God also desires peace between people at the earthly level. The Word says to us; If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18 NIV). It is possible (but not guaranteed) to live at peace with anyone, to the extent it depends on you. Hebrews supports this premise, Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14 NIV). There is an expectation in scripture to make efforts to live at peace with others as a core principle of the faith, to the extent that living in peace with others depends upon us personally. But peace may not be dependent upon you only.
More on this in my next post.