Peace At Work
Submitted by: Keith Cooper
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.
Today I was teaching my youngest daughter about Ghana, Africa. She was learning about the environment, how it is hot most of the year and about the rainy seasons and the not-so-rainy seasons. She learned some about the history of the country, how they were the first African country to gain independence from the British in 1957, how they are descended from the ancient Ashanti civilization. We also learned that even today, Ghana faces much internal strife from tribal tensions.
I was reminded of the passage from Galatians 3:26-29. What a great and awesome God who breaks down all barriers and dividing walls between peoples.
From the very beginning of mankind, Satan worked to bring dissention and war to the various peoples of the earth. Consider his work among the sons of Adam to strike discord and eventually war. In one incident, as much as 25% of the worlds population was killed in that war that ensued between Cain and Abel.
Jesus describes Satan as a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). As Isaiah describes it (Isaiah 14:12-27) Satan had such pride (see also Exodus 28:12-19) that he sought to usurp the very throne of God. In his attempt, he dragged much of the angelic host into the vain effort to war against Michael and the other angels who were loyal to the Holy One (Revelation 12:7-9). Having failed, he was cast out of heaven to the earth (Revelation 12:9; Isaiah 14:12; Ezekiel 28:16,18) where he continues to wage war against the sons of God (I Peter 5:8; Revelation 20:8).
Some people get so caught up with the details of the event described above that they lose some of the valuable lessons that are available from the scriptures. It is important to learn of the motive that produces wars. In essence it is selfishness. Satan desired to have, for himself, that which properly belonged to someone else. James asks, "What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain so you fight and quarrel .You ask and do not receive because you ask with wrong motives so that you may spend it on your pleasures." Clearly James is reporting selfishness as the cause of conflict, fighting, and murder.
As war became part of the human experience, so also did fear. Cain became afraid that those who found him would kill him also. Later, Lamech used the threat of vengeance to ward off any attempt to strike at him (see Genesis 4:23-24), thus invoking fear as the means of preservation of self. Always, war brings fear.
The English word peace is used well over 300 times in the Bible. Considering the contexts, prophecies, and associations in which these are found, it is easy to see that Peace is a major purpose in the will of God. God intends for man to be able to cast out fear (I John 4:18) and have perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3; John 14:27). One of Gods greatest attributes is that He is the God of Peace (I Thessalonians 5:23; II Thessalonians 3:16; Hebrews 12:14). He desires to grant us peace in every circumstance (II Thessalonians 3:16), yes, for us to have peace in the fullest measure (I Peter 1:2), multiplied to us (Jude 2). In fact, He sent His Son as the Prince of Peace to accomplish this (Isaiah 9:6; Luke 2:14). God said that in the kingdom of His Son there would be no end to peace (Isaiah 9:7). This being the case, it is no wonder that we see Satan at work on all levels of societal structure to destroy peace. Jesus said, "In the world you have tribulation ," being caused by the god of the world. "But," He continued, "take courage, I have overcome the world." He tells us that in Him we have peace (John 16:33).
What an exciting solution to all the worlds tribulation! What a great privilege to be at peace in Him! What a blessing to overcome the world by His grace!
Since we are in Christ, being transformed into His likeness, then it might do well to point out some of the areas in which we have the joy of overcoming the world.
One of the first places we can see the peace of God at work through us is in our communities. We live in a time when neighbors are not really dependent upon each other any longer. It was just a couple generations ago that neighbors relied upon and were reliable for each other. I remember in West Virginia hearing my father and his neighbors talk about how they used to get together during harvest time. One week they were gathering in the corn, another, mowing the fields. Later, they would get together to butcher hogs or cattle. It was a community affair. Admittedly, West Virginia rural communities are somewhat behind other locales, but jump back one more generation and you would have a pretty common picture. When television, computers, sports, and shopping malls did not occupy everyones time, people were much more involved in each others lives. Today, we have lost much of the appreciation for neighborhood. It says much that neighborhood is no longer a relationship shared, but a place often dreaded. Now, the "hood" is a place where gangs are hatched and police are dispatched. There certainly is a need for peace among neighbors. The Hebrew writer appeals to Christians to pursue peace with all men (12:14). Paul admonishes Christians to live in peace (II Corinthians 13:11) as much as is possible on our part (Romans 12:18) with all men. By pursuing and presenting this peace within the cities and communities in which we live, we have the joy of raising the standard for the quality of life there, as well as the opportunity to open doors for others to hear the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15).
Another area we see peace at work is in the new community that is developed, the church. Many social clubs exist under the guise of Christianity. I had a conversation with a Muslim teacher who pointed to the division and dissention evident in so-called Christendom in criticism. Obviously, peace does not pervade, nor proceed from this part of the world. But we now have been brought into the true body of Christ so that the peace of God rules in our hearts (Colossians 3:15). There is peace among the brethren (Ephesians 6:23) of the kingdom of peace (Romans 14:17), and we are now involved in building one another up in this peace (Romans 14:19) as we pursue peace with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart (II Timothy 2:22). We truly have peace to all who are in Christ, by which we can greet each other with a kiss of love (I Peter 5:14) as well as maintain our common hope (Romans 15:13).
Further, the world is torn apart by warfare among nations. There could be no greater epitome of division between nations than the one that existed between Jew and Gentile. The God of the Universe had handpicked the Jews. Gentiles had no such distinction. Much as the hostility was that existed between the two, Jesus, Himself became the peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace (Ephesians 2:14,15). Surely, any enmity and hostility between nations is outside the purview of the Kingdom of God. In Revelation 7:9 we see people from every nation, every tribe, every tongue assembled before the throne of God. Again, peace exists among all the peoples who exult in God. When called to a common purpose, hope, and identity, we have this great peace. The world certainly needs to see what this means. What a great privilege and opportunity we get as we glorify God in our lives. In the United States of America, where racism is promoted at every turn, we can ignore the propaganda and show true unity. In such countries as Ghana, the brethren there have the joy of showing all the disputing tribes, with their long-standing rivalries and dissention, the real power of the Holy Spirit who brings this peace (Galatians 5:22; Romans 14:17; Romans 8:6). Gone are the dividing walls between tribes. Left behind are the old prejudices that have caused men to devalue one another and scorn each other. How we are blessed to have the opportunity to actually change society as we march across the face of the earth in the name of the God of Peace!
One final area we may examine that is heavily affected by our new peace is the family. It has rightly been shown that the family unit is the building block of all society. History has shown that when the family unit is broken down and devalued, then the society soon crumbles. Just two weeks ago, we examined some of the ways Satan is seeking to destroy the family from outside the home. Let us remember that he also wants to work within the home to destroy and devour. But our great strength is the God of peace who is the Head of our families as well. Ephesians 6 reminds children to obey their parents in the Lord, for this is right. The rightness of a childs obedience finds its strength in the parents relationship in Jesus. Children certainly respond more willingly to teaching that rests in a higher source than Dad or Mom. The entire family can pull together when they pull toward the same goal. Paul teaches us in Ephesians 5 that the husband/wife relationship finds its purpose related directly to the nature of Christ and the church. Seeing that we have been justified by faith and have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1), how do we respond to one another? In diligence, we seek to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3). Husbands, we have the opportunity to bring peace to our wives by the way we justify our wives. We actually have opportunity to know how Jesus works by the way we treat our wives. Ladies learn of the great patience of the Lord by the way they treat their husbands. Since any strife and quarreling comes from selfishness, and displays behavior rooted in Satan, then we get to overcome these things and have great stability and peace in our lives in a way that the rest of the world can only imagine.
The all-pervading peace of God certainly does boggle the mind. The problem solving capability of this Peace of God is far-reaching. One example I can think of again comes from among the brethren in Africa. There are several young men there who are single and would like to get married. There are several single young ladies there as well who would like to marry. But the difficulty of the situation is that these young people come from varying tribes who have traditionally been at odds with each other. The prejudices in the families are prevalent and each family puts great pressure on the youth to avoid intermarrying. The peace of God supplies the answer. A Christian marriage is, in itself, a great means of illustrating the gospel to the world, but a marriage between opposing tribes is an even greater opportunity for the couple to display the power of Gods Spirit to break down all barriers and bring peace. The gospel of peace is available for the brave young people who will take a stand in a never-before-seen manner by availing themselves to the joy of marriage that God has provided for us as we walk here in the world, but not of the world. This is just one of the many implications and applications of His great riches of peace which He has lavished upon us.
Truly blessed is the King who said "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you." (John 14:27). Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased