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« Why Communicate? | Main | Is Judgment Day Coming May 21, 2011? »

The Missing Peace

Most of us may be faulted for looking for hidden meanings woven into obscure scriptures while breezing past basic doctrines in plain view.  The obvious is boring, we think; the good stuff is always lodged in cryptic verses discovered only through intense study and gifted insight.  In fact, the most significant doctrines of the Bible are stated in such clear terms that they are often seen without rigorous study.  One of these doctrines is peace. 

The church today needs a rediscovery of the foundational, towering strength of peace.  In its absence, even the noblest quests fail.  Differences caused by war, conflict and argumentation have probably thrown churches and Christians into confusion than any other dilemma.  And yet, we run past the vital role that peace plays in all of our endeavors.  Galatians 5:22 tells us that it is a fruit of the Spirit.  Jesus taught, Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”  Matthew 5:9.  Peace is the missing piece.  

Peace is the intended outcome of war, yet, ironically, it is far easier to recruit people to fight than live in peace. Too many people get more pleasure from the fight than from the calm.  Yes, there is “the good fight.”  The “weapons of our warfare” and the “whole armor of God” must never put down.  We need them to defeat the real enemy.  Too often, however, we misidentify the enemy.  When we classify unbelievers as the enemy simply because they trapped in their unbelief, or, when we fight against brothers and sisters over minor disagreements, or, when we instigate conflict in our homes, schools and workplaces in the name of righteousness, we err.  Fight to love, yes.  Love to fight, no.  When faced with conflict, the first impulse of a Spirit-filled Christian should be to pursue peace, not rise up in righteous indignation.  

The Peace Offering in the Old Testament symbolized a healthy relationship between the person who offered and God and the priesthood.  It signified peace with God and peace with others.  In the New Testament, Jesus is our peace offering.  “Christ Himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14), because “we who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13). “Having been justified by faith” (by the sprinkling of the blood at the Burnt Offering Altar) “we have peace with God” (Romans 5:1). Jesus restored our fellowship with the Father through faith in His death and shed blood. 

Christ is also He “who has made both (Jews and Gentiles) one.”  To believers, the cross is the place for us to be one.  We cannot be “one” while conflicts rage.  Only death makes oneness work.  Without death, conflict reigns. Only as we begin to know “the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:10) can we “be of the same mind in the Lord.”  Philippians 4:2; 2:5-8.  Remember Euodias and Syntyche?  In this passage, Paul appealed to them to get their differences straightened out.  (It is interesting that Euodias means ‘sweet aroma!)  But, Christ is our Peace Offering, not conflict offering. “Christ Himself is our peace” Ephesians 2:14. 

Granted, waging peace is difficult and messy.  If you have the intestinal fortitude, read the Old Testament verses that describe the Peace Offering (Leviticus 3:1-5.)  The priests were to cut out the entrails of the sacrificial animal and burn them in a particular pattern.  To the western mind, this is a disgusting and outrageous passage.  We want to be spared the gory details.  But, there is a purpose in such intimate detail.  I believe it is this:  Peace can be laborious and complicated.  Sometimes it is based on little more than good will, hoping for the best, and the ability to walk through minefields of explosive feelings. How can we find peace when we are faced with sinful behavior?  How can we expect to make peace when we are insulted, ridiculed and shocked by grossness?  It’s not easy, but Psalm 34:14 commands us to Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.” 

The same Bible that teaches us to love everyone also instructs us to seek peace with everyone.  But, how does this work?  If I disagree with someone, whether friend or foe, should I leave the point of our disagreement alone and seek peace?  Shouldn’t I address the problem in order to maintain my integrity?  The answer lies in the now clichéd saying, “What would Jesus do?”  Good question, and there is an answer.  “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”  Isaiah 53:7.  This is the Jesus peace. 

Is the Jesus peace your missing piece?   Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  John 14:27.  The Jesus peace does not signal compromise.  It does not mean vacillating between opinions.  The Jesus peace is not weakness dressed up in church clothes.  To the contrary, it establishes strength of character.  It engenders respect.  It shows the willingness to win a soul than win an argument.  Peace creates the opportunity for love and ministry to do its finest work. 

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