Peace! America wants it. Iraq wants it. Saudi-Arabia wants it. Israel wants it. Russia wants it. Latvia wants it. China wants it.
It appears that everybody wants it, but they want it on their own terms; and this self-interest has taken peace from the earth.
There are two kinds of peace.
- There is the peace that Jesus gives, and
- There is the peace that the world gives.
The first is a fruit of the Spirit, and is the result of a relationship with the Prince of Peace. As such, it is inward and PERSONAL.
The second is the fruit of man's effort, and is the result of conferences, compromise, and coercion. As such, it is outward and POLITICAL.
Jesus made this clear when He said, "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). Jesus knew the nature of the peace "that the world giveth." He knew that the liberties His disciples enjoyed at that time would soon be taken from them. He knew that trouble and fearful times lay ahead. So He gave them His peace to prepare them for the day when the peace "that the world giveth" would be gone.
You see, the peace that Jesus gives does not work in a vacuum. Neither is it the calm after a storm. The peace that Jesus gives is a calm and quietness of heart in the midst of a storm! It is a peace that the world cannot give.
In the last few days we have been preoccupied with the search for the peace that the world giveth. We propose to bring it about by conquest and coercion. After we have conquered, we will convene conference, make covenants, and appoint committees to monitor our "peace." The Moslems will go back to their mosques, and the Americans will go back to their discotheques.
History has proven that the peace the world gives is passing. It will last only as long as the resolve of the worldly men who make it. "The war to end all wars" failed to bring lasting peace. "Peace in our time" always seems to be a thing of tomorrow ... and you know that tomorrow never comes.
The peace that Jesus gives, on the other hand, is the result of a relationship with the Prince of Peace. As such, it is inward and personal. Like the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of wisdom, this peace starts with God and cannot be had apart from a personal relationship with God. It is as lasting as is our willingness to "abide in the vine" and draw peace from Christ's spiritual supply. It is a personal peace that passes all understanding.
The peace that the world gives fails because it leaves out the Prince of Peace. There can be no permanent peace between men until men make peace with God. The vertical relationship must precede the horizontal relationship. But when the vertical is put up against the horizontal, together they form a cross, and it is through a cross that Jesus made possible reconciliation between men. "He is our peace who hath made both one!" (Ephesians 2:14).
The peace that Jesus gives is paradoxical in many ways. While the peace the world gives is based on an "evil for evil" principle, the peace that Jesus gives enables those who have it to return "good for evil." This means they receive spiritual power to do supernatural things. Look at the miracles they do.
- They rejoice when they are reviled and persecuted (Matthew 5:12).
- They pray for their enemies and feed them when they are hungry (Romans 12:20).
- They go the second mile, and turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39).
- They refuse to go to law with their brother when he has wronged them (1 Corinthians 6:7).
- They place no stumbling block before their brother but rather allow his conscience to be their guide (Romans 10:21).
Talk about supernatural living! There is nothing natural about the peace that Jesus gives. It takes more power to return "good for evil" than it does to demand justice and to fight for it.
However, this does not mean that the peace that Jesus gives is passive and spineless.
It is very "pro-kingdom." The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, and righteousness is its first principle. Its peace loving and selfless citizens are at war with unrighteousness in any form. While they do not fight for their personal rights, they will fight to the death for the kingdom of God. The weapons of their warfare are not carnal... but make no mistake about it, spiritual weapons are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. While the peace that the world gives strives to end hostilities between the kingdoms of men, there can be no negotiated peace between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan.
The objective, therefore, of spiritual warfare is to "cast down imaginations and every high thing that exhalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:4,5). Notice ... there is no "peace treaty" here. There is no compromise. There is no reconciliation of kingdoms.
What peace, then, comes out of such a conflict? Certainly it is not between the kingdoms involved in the conflict. Rather, it is the peace of mind and heart the captive sinner experiences when he is reconciled to God and Satan's power over him is broken. This is the peace that Jesus gives! It is a "pro-Kingdom peace that is militantly partisan! He who produces the fruit of the Spirit does not "come to terms" with the unfruitful works of darkness. He does not say, "Peace at any price." He does not say, "Forget doctrine in the interest of unity." He does not say, "Soft-pedal sin so as not to offend the sinner." He refuses to lay down the weapons of his spiritual warfare in the interest of a world brotherhood that would merge all religions under one banner. He is at peace with God, but he never makes peace with the enemy.
The apostle James gives us another dimension of the peace that Jesus gives. He says, "The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace." What is he saying? He is saying, "You don't find peace, you make it!" Jesus said it in another way. He said, "Blessed are the peacemakers." There are those who are always looking for non-controversial assignments ... for peaceful places where they can work without conflict. Those who do this seldom find what they are looking for. This is not a peaceful world, and personalities and differences of opinion make for strife and division. It is the sick who need a doctor. Jesus was saying, Blessed are they who, with a peaceful disposition, move into a controversial situation and "make" peace. Blessed are the peacemakers.
Christ is our great example of peacemaking. Ephesians 2:14,15 says it eloquently. "For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of the twain one new man, so making peace." The peacemaker claims no rights. He refuses to become part of the problem. He refuses to think of himself. His whole concern is the reconciliation of others, and he is willing to suffer to see it done! Jesus did no wrong ... but He took the blame for the wrong we had done ... thus making peace. Jesus was a peacemaker, and He has passed on to us the work of peacemaking. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:19,20).
This means that the believer's role, as an ambassador for Christ, is that of peacemaking. And what a role it is!
Many years ago, I heard a secular song sung by Ed Ames that was entitled "Who Will Answer?" It was a haunting melody with words that expressed the dilemma of a world seeking for answers to its problems ... deep problems ... like life without meaning ... disillusionment in marriage ... war ... suicide ... drugs ... nuclear weapons ... and powerless religion. Listen to it. Listen to the cry of a world seeking peace. Sense its agony, as it searches for answers!
From the canyons of the mind, we wander on and stumble, blind ...
While through the often-tangled maze, of starless nights and sunless days ...
While searching for some road or clue to lead us to the truth ...
And who will answer?
Side by side two people stand, together bonded hand in hand,
With love embedded in their hearts. But soon an empty feeling starts
To overwhelm their hollow lives. And when they ask the hows and whys ...
Who will answer?
On a strange and distant hill, a young man's lying ... very still.
His arms will never hold his child, because a bullet, running wild
Has struck him down. And now he cries, "Dear God, oh, why ... oh, why?
And who will answer?
On a high and lofty ledge, a figure totters near the edge ...
While jeering crowds collect below, to egg him on with, "Go man, go!"
But who will ask what led him to his private day of doom?
And who will answer?
In a room with darkened shades, the smell of sandalwood pervades.
While colored thoughts in muddled heads, reclining now on rumpled beds
Of unmade dreams that can't come true. And when they ask what they should do ...
Who will answer?
"Neath a spreading mushroom tree, the world revolves in apathy.
While overhead the distant specks roar on, drowned out by discotheques.
And if the secret button's pressed, because one man has been outguessed,
Who will answer?
Is our hope in walnut shells, worn 'round the neck with temple bells?
Or deep within some cloistered walls, where hooded figures pray in halls?
Or in old books on dusty shelves? Or in our stars? Or in ourselves?
And who will answer?
If the soul is darkened by a fear it cannot name,
If the mind is baffled when the rules don't fit the game ...
Who will answer? Who will answer? Who will answer?
What a picture of our present world! A troubled world with many questions and no real answer. "The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked" (Isaiah 57:20,21).
But think of this:
God has cast His Church into that troubled sea with the answer to the world's unrest. That answer is Jesus. There is no other! We are commissioned to go into all the world with the answer. Christ himself will come "when our obedience is fulfilled" (2 Corinthians 10:6). So let us obey ... and go "... with our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace!" (Ephesians 6:15).
© 2013 Morris Williams