If you were to look up the definition of peace in the dictionary, you most likely would find the following: freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility; freedom from or the cessation of war or violence. In our mid-week study, one thought that was expressed that resonated with me was the absence of hostility. Albert Einstein once said, “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” Although his thought was not spiritual in nature, it does speak to the challenge man is faced with, regarding peace with God; that is, do we really understand what it means to be at peace with God?
First, we need to make a distinction between peace in this world and peace with God. In Philippians 4, Paul is writing to Christians about “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” that “will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (v7). In a broken and demanding world, peace can seem almost impossible. We can fight against this with prayer and thanksgiving: rejoicing in the Lord (vv4-6). Of course, when we couple this with spiritual focus (vv8-9), “the God of peace will be with you.” This hostility in the world is easier to discern and acknowledge then that of one’s hostility with God.
For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son…
Enemy! What a powerful word. It speaks of a hostility between God and mankind…us. Long ago, the Duchess of Buckingham was invited to come and listen to a preacher. Here is part of her response, “It is monstrous to be told, that you have a heart as sinful as the common wretches that crawl on the earth. This is highly offensive and insulting…” This is where the trouble begins. People see themselves as good, by evaluating the external aspects of their lives. For peace with God to be achieved, one must first grasp that there is spiritual hostility due to sin (Romans 3:23; 6:23; Isaiah 59:1-2). As long as that sin problem remains unresolved, so does spiritual hostility with God. But it need not be! Paul writes, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Romans 5:1). Jesus is “our peace” (Ephesians 2:14)! Jesus is the One who is able to put “to death the enmity” (Ephesians 2:16) caused by sin. Isaiah would rightly proclaim that Jesus is our Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).
Under the sacrificial system, God’s people were reminded through the frequency of their sacrifices that there was a hostility, an absence of peace, due to sin, between God and man. That system would point them to Christ (Galatians 3:24) and can help us better understand our need for Christ. Thank You Jesus for being that sufficient peace offering! Dennis