Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Peace with the World?

The angels at Jesus’ birth declared peace on earth (Luke 2:14). But Jesus Himself said He came to bring, not peace, but a sword (Matthew 10:34-36). How does this fit together? The peace of God is based first of all on relationship with God (Romans 5:1). This overflows into our relationship with others (Ephesians 2:14, 15; 4:3). Ultimately, this peace will cover the entire earth (Isaiah 9:7). But the world rejects this message of peace. It thinks that peace can be obtained by not making waves and going along with what other people say or at least not stirring up a fuss over things. Take, for example, the Roman Empire at the time Christianity first came on the scene. The Romans thought it totally unreasonable not to be willing to offer incense to Caesar as a god. It was not that they themselves very seriously believed this, but it was obstinate not to go with the flow. These Christians who were too fanatical to see this obviously deserved to be put to death. 

We have today a similar situation, where Christians are seen as intolerant for not going along with the current social ideals. How are we to respond to this? First, we need to exhibit the peace of God (John 14:27), the peace which comes from our relationship with God and the hope we have in Him (John 14:1-3). We also need, from that , to become peacemakers to reach out to these people opposed to us (Matthew 5:9; Romans 12:18). I am not at all saying we should compromise truth, but I am convinced we need to approach the situation with the correct attitude (2 Timothy 2:24-26). If we let ourselves be pulled down into meeting them on a level of anger and animosity, we can end up simply alienating them and making them harder to reach. It is not always easy to follow this course. I know, for myself, my pride gets in the way. (I want to win the argument even if it makes it harder to win the person.) But if we go to God for His peace, a peace grounded in our hope in Him, we can show that peace in times of trouble, knowing Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33). Then we can begin to reach out to those around us with the peace God offers.

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