The Peace of God
He himself is our peace. (Ephesians 2:14)
I was once involved in some trade-union negotiations. The atmosphere was tense and stifled; there certainly wasn’t peace. There was a stiffness in the atmosphere until everything got resolved (which happened on a day when I wasn’t there!). Peace reigned – at least for a while! I am reminded of the cynic’s definition that peace ‘in international affairs is a period of cheating between two periods of fighting’ (Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary).
People generally negotiate a peace; but God’s peace is quite different. Jesus didn’t negotiate peace between God and us; he was the peace! ‘He himself is our peace,’ wrote Paul. Peace is not a ‘thing’ or an atmosphere, but a person – the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was Jesus himself who ‘destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility’ (Ephesians 2:14). The barrier Paul was thinking of was the wall that separated the Court of the Gentiles from the Court of Israel in the temple at Jerusalem. Signs stood at the gate between the two: ‘Gentiles keep out on pain of death’. But through his death, ripped that wall down, as it were. He made it possible for both Jews and Gentiles alike to come close to God so that they could know his peace – with him and with one another.
Peace is the birthright of every believer. God wants us to know his peace, not just as theological truth, but as a reality; a peace in our relationship with him and with each other; a peace that abides in face of difficulty, hardship, and even death. But how do we maintain such a peace? Through trusting in the Lord, and not ourselves; through staying close to him and depending on his Spirit; through keeping our minds fixed on the him and putting God’s word into practice.
Christ’s life was characterized by a calm, unruffled, unflappable spirit. Just think, for example, of how he simply walked through a mob anxious to kill him or waited in Gethsemane for his betrayer to arrive. It is this sort of peace, a peace that knows God is with us even in the pressurized times, that Jesus promises to each of us today.
The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont