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We are living in a world where peace is becoming a rarer commodity. There are not only international conflicts but in a number of areas where there is peace there can be underlying currents which can bubble up into local conflict. People of different races do not harmonize. There are generational conflicts. There are historical incidents which cause hatred between communities for generations afterwards. There are philosophical and political differences which cause deep rifts between people, families and communities. There are financial and material differences which are caused by structures and institutions that underpin various societies. Then there are work conflicts, conflicts with neighbours and within families. Some people move from areas of conflict to other parts of the world only to cause conflict in the areas that have received them.
It has been said, “More people have been killed in the name of God than for any other reason,” and many take this idea as historical fact. However according to the “Encyclopedia of Wars,” by Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod, published 30.11.2004, out of 1,763 wars only 123 have been classified as involving a religious cause. Therefore less than 7% of all wars and also less than 2% of all people killed in warfare are attributable to religion. Then there is another big question that needs to be asked and answered. Does God approve of all this done in His Name? Our response to that is definitely “No”.
So how can peace be known in the earth?
If you were to ask God to do something to make the world more peaceful place you would probably ask Him to remove certain people that you do not like. For instance corrupt politicians and business leaders, and then murderers, thieves and violent people etc.; and then hooligans that disrupt your neighbourhood etc. What about disruptions in the workplace or the family conflicts? Have we been part of any of them? So it comes down to the individual. We can be the cause of conflict. Why? Because we want some particular material thing or type of action or attitude which differs from someone else near to us. Some of our desires may, or may not, be legitimate, or we may want to fulfil them in non-legitimate ways. Then our pride can get involved so that we continue the course of action, not because it is right, but because we can get offended. Also perhaps we are determined to get our way even if it is at the expense of someone else.
So what is wrong with human nature? Some people say that it is lack of education. That can partly be true because the Bible says in Proverbs chapter 22 verse (v)6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” But even so some of the most educated men have been the greatest cause of conflict in the world. It really comes down to that something inside us that wants to get our own way even, at times, when we know that it is wrong. That desire in us, however great or small it finds itself expressed, in what God calls “sin”. God says in the Bible, “All unrighteousness is sin.” (1John 5v17)
But what is peace? For some there is a negative view of peace which is no more than the absence of conflict. However peace is more than just the absence of conflict. In “The Gift of Peace” John MacArthur says, “The peace He speaks of here is a subjective, experiential peace. It is tranquillity of the soul, a settled, positive peace that affects the circumstances of life. It is peace that is aggressive; rather than being victimized by events, it attacks them and gobbles them up. It is a supernatural, permanent, positive, no-side-effects, divine tranquilizer.” But where does peace come from? It comes through trusting as your Saviour, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9v6), Who is the Lord Jesus Christ. The main reason for this is that Jesus Christ made peace for us with God while He was down here on the earth. He brings positive peace, and many other great benefits, to the lives of those who trust in Him.
Naturally we lack peace with God. We all have a rebellious attitude against God and want our way and not what He says. The song, “I Did It My Way”, sung by Frank Sinatra, is what characterises many people. But has running life “my way” brought peace to the world? Obviously not and so we need be a better way. God says in Proverbs 14v12 “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” and in Colossians 1v21 “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.” We express our enmity against God by sinful deeds.
The better way is found with God Who, despite our enmity against Him, “sent the Son (Jesus Christ) to be the Saviour of the world.” (1John 4v14). John 3v17 says “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” So the babe at Bethlehem was not sent to condemn us but to save us.
God sent Christ into the world to be the greatest help, or blessing, to the world that anyone could be. At Jesus Christ’s birth the angels appeared with a message for the shepherds saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2v14). Christ grew up and knew what it was to be a child, teenager and man, living a perfect life amongst imperfection. One of those blessings or spiritual gifts that Jesus Christ would bring is peace. The Lord Jesus said to those who have trusted in Him in John 14v27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” The world’s peace depends on failing sinners but God’s peace depends on the unfailing Lord Jesus Christ. God wants you and the world to live in peace. We hope that you grasp this, that God really wants you to live in peace. But how can you experience this peace?
It is said of Jesus Christ “having made peace through the blood of his cross.” (Colossians 1v20). As Christ died for our sins and His blood was shed on the cross outside Jerusalem, this means that God’s righteous anger against our sin has been appeased and the judgment due to us for our sins has been fully paid for. Consequently everyone who believes that Jesus Christ died for their own sins has peace with God. This is remarkably emphasised in Romans 5v1 “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Another spiritual gift, or blessing, is found in Ephesians 2v13 “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” So through the death and resurrection of Christ, believing in Him as Saviour means that God can bring His enemies near to Himself … and happily will give them a place in His perfect heaven. This shows something of His wonderful love to us.
The type of peace that people really desire is that which can effectively deal with the past pangs of conscience so that they are not tortured by previous sins day by day. They want a peace that rules the present with no disgruntled needs that cannot be calmed. They want a peace that promises the future, where no gloomy fear of the unknown tomorrow menaces them and everything is everlastingly secured.
Apart from that God has also promised that there will be a future 1,000 years reign when Christ will reign on the earth as King. This is found in Daniel c9, Matthew 25v31-46, 1Thessalonians 4v13-18, and Revelation c7-20. God reveals that the Lord Jesus will come back for who have trusted in Him as Saviour and take them to be with Him in heaven. Then there will be a period of about 7 years when there will be great tribulation on the earth because of man’s sin. Then Christ will return and set up His kingdom and He will reign for 1,000 years. There will be peace and prosperity (see Zechariah 9v10 and Micah 4v1-4). After that will be the end of the world and the final judgment of those who have not believed in Christ (2Peter 3v9, Revelation c20).
So what about you now? Would you not like to know this underlying peace with God not only concerning your past but also for your present and future? Whatever anyone else thinks, God is true and will bring His Word to pass. All those who trust in Christ as their Saviour will receive the forgiveness of sins, eternal life and peace with God. God then is transforming them and they do not regret the choice that they have made. This change has been demonstrated with God giving them support. Also in different places in the world where a number of people have trusted in Christ as Saviour their society has changed for the better.
If all the world trusted today in Christ as their Saviour from their sins then all the world would be positively changed. Then God’s peace for the earth would become peace on the earth and what a wonderful place it would be.