We All Long for Peace
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. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Have you ever heard about what happened in December of 1914? World War 1 had been going on for about 5 months, when during December of 1914, the war had reached sort of a stalemate. French British and German soldiers sat across from each other in opposing trenches. I have a dramatic video that captures real life historic events pieced together from newspapers, and letters from the soldiers that were on the Western front that day and sat in the trenches. Let’s watch the video.
We Long for Peace
We Long for Peace
That is called the Christmas truce of 1914.It happened in many places along the western front, but unfortunately not all. Some soldiers were even killed attempting the truce, as they ventured out into no-mans land. It was really unprecedented. As one report had said never had so many men from opposing sides been out visible in broad daylight.
The peace of the Christmas truce was short-lived. It really only lasted one day, Christmas. The war continued, and when leaders on both sides had heard what occured, before the Christmas of 1915 they issued strict orders against any unauthorized truce meetings.
The Christmas truce shows us, that everyone is really longing for peace in our hearts. Even the most hardened soldiers involved in bloody conflict still long for peace. We long for world peace. We long for peace in our own country, in 2018. We long for peace in our households, and we long for peace in our churches. But something is broken.
Even our current definition of peace is a bit off. Peace in the ancient greek and Peace today is defined as an absence of conflict. The definition is true, but it is odd because it defines the word not in relation to what it is, but what it is not. In other words, how do you know you have peace-well, you know you have peace when conflict or strife is missing. That works in some ways, but in other ways it falls short.
For instance in the Christmas truce, for that day there was not conflict or strife, yet there was not peace, the countries were still apart. There was no full coming together, they ended up back in their own trenches.
In the Old Testament, the Jews had a fuller definition of peace. You will recognize the word, it is shalom. Jews even use it as a greeting. Shalom has a fuller meaning than just the absence of conflict. It also carries with it an idea of wholeness or soundness -completeness, intact. An over-all sense of well being
If we look at the Christmas truce of 1914, there was some peace for a time, while the conflict was absent for a while, but ultimately the nations the soldiers were representing were not complete, but were apart. It wasn’t whole or sound, there were still two sides. There may have been peace but not Shalom.
People I think are longing for Shalom. A sense of completeness, an overall sense of wholeness-well being. We are longing for it, yet it remains just outside of our grasp Why is that? Why do we long for peace. I think it is because deep down, it is written into our DNA is that something is not complete or whole, we know something missing from our well-being. We search for it we strive for it, but we do not have it. We may have it for a moment like in the Christmas truce, but ultimately everyone in the whole human race is still at war.
We are at war with God, and we started it. When Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan to eat the forbidden fruit, and they decided to give into temptation-even before they took that bite, when they made up their mind to do it-they were blatantly defying the rule of the King. When you defy the king you commit treason-you declare that you are not part of the kingdom. Essentially they declared war with God. The Shalom, the wholeness, the well-being the togetherness the soundness the completeness that man enjoyed with God, was over. They had to leave. The Shalom was destroyed.
This war is still occuring today, and I have a picture of it.
Slide: Here is a picture of it.
People even build monuments to the war. Yet some people don’t see it. This week, maybe you saw this in the news, in the Illinois State Capital rotundathere is a Christmas tree, it has been displayed for a long time. Then some years ago, a Jewish group wanted to place a Menora alongside of the Christmas Tree. The Menora has been there several years as well. Then, this year a group of Satanists wanted to have a display as well, so alongside of the Christmas tree they put up a statute. Their display It is a hand holding an apple, presumably the forbidden fruit, with a serpent wrapping around them.
Normally, I wouldn’t dignify a group like this by pointing out there ridiculous antics, however,
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
As I see it it is perfect illustration of How bad the human race needs God. The statue, meant to be offensive to Christians actually shows us How we need a way to overcome that which was done so long. Ago. We need a way to put a stop to the hostility between us and God.
Paul talks about this war going on in the Book of Romans chapter 8, verse 7.
The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
The mind that is hostile to God does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
Oh we can try, and we do. We can try everything we can think of, and the human race has tried. There are Tibetan prayer bowls that ring a pleasant song to help people pray.T In the Himalayas they hang flags in the wind to carry prayers to God. Muslim’s hurl stones at an Obilisk. We build confessionals, we give alms we do good deeds, anything we can to make peace with God. However, all those things do is offer a false peace. It may give us “peace of mind” for a time, or an end to the conflict or strife, however, eventually, we go back to the trenches the truce ends, and we have throw more stones, give more alms, go right back to confession That false peace reminds me of peace and quiet.
A False Peace (True Peace is coming)
A False Peace (True Peace is coming)
Even peace and quiet has been distorted. I remember having fights or fun with my sisters I am not sure which, but I remember being noisy. And I can still hear my Father say Can I just get a little peace and quiet around here? He was talking about an absence of noise yet somehow that was tied to peace, and I don’t know that two necessarily need to go together. So what happens people walk around trying not to disturb the temporary absence of strife by being quiet.
That is a false peace. A peace that is held by absence of conflict is a false peace.
False peace needs a lack of sound. We think that the key to peace is to be quiet, but that is not it either. We try and walk around and avoid conflict so as to not disrupt the peace. We even do it in churches. Don’t say anything that might cause conflict in an effort to keep the peace. The problem is that is not the right type of peace. It may be the absence of conflict, but it is so easily disrupted because it is not whole or complete it is lacking it is not Shalom.
During the truce were joyous celebrations. You can have a household full of kids, playing loudly yet peacefully. Peacefully because there is a wholeness in the family and loudly because there is wholeness in their relationships. In that type of peace, they can even disagree and still remain brother and sister, and not start a war.
Even the very announcement of Jesus can with noise, noise of joy. Listen to how Luke records the announcement of Jesus’s birth-
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared praising God. That is not a quiet event. You can Have true peace in the middle of noise.
Was it quiet before yes probably it was out in a field at night, it was probably quiet before and after, but here is my point.
Peace and Joy can do and should go together. I think we that the reason we so associate quiet with peace is because we have a broken idea of peace. Our idea of peace is such that if we stop yelling at one another we will have peace. If we stop the gunshots there will be peace.
We can have quietness without peace. Although the gunfire stopped they were not at peace. We can have quiet, and all walk around on eggshells waiting for something to disrupt the peace.
The prophet Isaiah may have been the first to talk about peace and quiet, but not as you think. In . Isaiah 32. The prophet Isaiah talks about a time when God’s Spirit will be poured out. It is a time when God’s kingdom on earth will be establish. But, before that time there will be trials, and difficulties. Things will not be good. I will start at verse 9, and read about those difficulties first.
You women who are so complacent, rise up and listen to me; you daughters who feel secure, hear what I have to say! In little more than a year you who feel secure will tremble; the grape harvest will fail, and the harvest of fruit will not come. Tremble, you complacent women; shudder, you daughters who feel secure! Strip off your fine clothes and wrap yourselves in rags. Beat your breasts for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vines and for the land of my people, a land overgrown with thorns and briers— yes, mourn for all houses of merriment and for this city of revelry. The fortress will be abandoned, the noisy city deserted; citadel and watchtower will become a wasteland forever, the delight of donkeys, a pasture for flocks,
Things are not looking good. People trusted in kings and rulers for peace and security, and God says all that is not going to last. They trusted in the things of the world, they trusted in their flesh, and not in God. The peace that the world offers is short-lived. So what happened, bad times. There is going to be this bad times, when cities are are a wasteland.
Until... look what happens...
till the Spirit is poured on us from on high, and the desert becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field seems like a forest.
Till the Spirit- Until God pours out the Holy Spirit on us. Until God does a new things and pours out His Spirit on us, from on high. Then continuing...
The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert, his righteousness live in the fertile field. The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
The Lord’s justice, will dwell in the wasteland. The Lord’s righteousness. Who do you think is going to bring the Lord’s righteousness? Who do think is the the manifestation of the Lord’s righteousness? It is Jesus. Jesus is the “Lord our Righteousness” from Jeremiah 33:16 and 1 Cor 1:30
True Peace is in Jesus
True Peace is in Jesus
Jesus is the righteousness of God. Jesus is the one the true king that came to bring us God’s right-ness. The fruit, or the product that will be produced by the coming of Jesus will be Shalom. Peace. That Shalom will cause a quietness.
That quietness, that Isaiah describes is not the absence of sound, rather it is the quietness of our soul. It is the quietness when the struggle of longing for peace is attained. It is the quietness of our hunger for peace being satisfied. It is a wholeness of a relationship that was destroyed by sin. A peace in our heart.
That right-ness, that wholeness that general sense of well-being comes to us one way, through faith in Jesus Christ.
It is written about by Paul in Romans 1:17
For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
In the Gospel-the good news is that Jesus came as a man. Jesus came and was born in stable and became man and even though he was a man and was tempted as we are tempted he overcame that temptation. He still lived the perfect life. He did not sin. He did what we said earlier in Romans 8.7, that we cannot do. He submitted to God’s law, and was righteous.
When we place our faith, or when we trust and believe in His goodness, or his ability to remain at peace with God, God makes us Righteous in His sight. God looks not on our sins but on the finished work of Jesus, and we are in right standing with God. The Bible calls that being justified.
When were justified, several benefits come with that. The apostle Paul talks about them in Romans chapter 5.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Therefore because we have been placed in right standing---by our faith in the one who lived a life without sin, our Lord Jesus. We have PEACE with God. It isn’t like we have on our own came out of the trench, and came up with a way to move over to God. Rather it is like God has declared that the war has ended, by something Jesus did.
Paul goes on in the next verse Romans 5.2
through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
Through Jesus we gained access by faith-no other vehicle provides us this grace-Not the church, not through anything that we do-it is through Jesus we gain access into the grace that we now stand. That grace that saved us now continues on in our Christian walk- we stand in this grace. We are in the grace of God after we become Christians. It is like this peace treaty has been enacted, on our behalf by Jesus and because we trust that this treaty is in effect, we know walk out into no-mans land, knowing, trusting that we will not be shot.
We can stand there, even though the battle among others continues to rage on around us. We don’t need to return our trenches. And we look forward now boasting in the certain and eager expectation of the Glory of God to be fully revealed. This allows us to look forward with certainty that God will restore the world to a lasting peace.
We can stand in the grace of God in the middle of the battle that rages on and actually boast in How Jesus brought us the peace with God we need. That is where we need to continue our focus.
Sometimes, if we forget that we may look around at the world, at the temporary peace we see, and we get frustrated. We return to our trenches and suffer. We see the idol placed alongside the Christmas Tree and we fret and worry at the apparent mockery.
But Brothers and Sisters, Paul says that we do not only boast in this, but we also glory in our sufferings.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
We glory in our sufferings because something better is coming. Because God is producing in us, something extraordinary. Our suffering by the power of the Holy Spirit helps us to persevere.
perseverance, character; and character, hope.
That hope again. That certain eager expectation of something marvelous that God is going to do in us.
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
And this eager expecting of God’s glory glory to be revealed is certain, we won’t be left hanging. The proof of that is that we have the Holy Spirit, here and now. The proof that our hope is sure and certain is that the Holy Spirit has been poured out on us. The Holy Spirit that dwells within us, that interceeds for us, and prays for us.
Brothers and Sisters, God sent Jesus at Christmas to bring us peace with God. A peace that passes all understanding, a peace that is lasting, a peace that brings hope. A peace that brings us back to whole and complete, to where we belong.
So that when we have that sense that there is a lack of peace in the world that things are not yet, complete, and whole as they should be, and we are suffering, all Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to those on whom his favor rests.