THE PEACE WE HAVE IN CHRIST
When we think about peace, we often think of it as being the absence of sort of conflict. Often we want to make into a Kum Ba Ya moment. Biblically speaking peace is about establishing justice, restoration, and with tranquility with God and neighbor.
Philippians 4:7 refers to “the peace of God which transcends all understanding.” Most of Paul’s letters began with the words “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Peace is a state of tranquility or quietness of spirit that transcends circumstances. The term peace is described in Scripture as a gift from God and congruent with His character.
Real peace as defined by scripture can never be established by fanning fear, reliving past wrongs, or erecting walls.
- Peace Wall in Belfast which separates Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods.
- Wall in Bethlehem that separates Israelis and Palestinians.
- Berlin Wall of the Cold War which separated the East from the West.
All throughout history walls have failed to bring any lasting peace or security to a country, a community, or a person’s heart.
Paul puts it this way;” He is our peace who made made the two one and destroyed the dividing wall of hostility”. I want us to ponder this for a moment as look at what having the peace of Christ is all about.
Today, I want to focus on how Christ breaks down the walls of hostility, and next week we’ll look how walls are torn down and bridges are built.
First of all, walls are real and hostility is horrific!
The Church continues to be the most segregated eating place in America. Across society, fear has driven us to flock behind gated communities, separate the haves from the have-nots, draw battle lines between conservatives and liberals, judge people by ethnic origin, and condemn people by religious affiliation.
Worst of all, we have slipped into the sad habit of demonizing those different from us. Watch the current political ads. Are candidates really as bad as their opponents would have us believe?
Are the lines between winners and losers so clearly known? Is it all them versus us, truth versus lies, good guys versus bad guys? My experience in life has been there are at least three sides to every story: there is your side, my side and the truth, which is somewhere else to be discovered.
Demonizing powerfully stirs the emotions of a partisan crowd but does it bring any healing to a hurting world?
It gets sponsors for talk shows, but does it build a world where we will live together in civility?
What is this notion of demonizing the person different from me? Paul says in this letter to the Ephesian church, “Let the wall come down.”
In Christ, let the walls come down. One of my favorite poems is a piece by Robert Frost called “Mending Wall.” It is the story of two New England farmers who go out each spring to rebuild the rock fences that tumbled down in the freeze and thaw of winter.
These two farmers have been mending the fences for years under the guise that “good fences make good neighbors.” But one farmer is beginning to question the habit. “My apple trees never get across and eat the cones under his pines,” he reasons as he wears his fingers rough with this outdoor game of adults. Then Frost has the old farmer say this:
Before I build a wall, I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out
And to whom I was like to give offense
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall
That wants it down.
Don’t wall out God, others, and yourselves. Because in doing so we diminish our souls and we hinder the possibility of God’s work within our lives.