Peace for Our Time

 
chamberlain2
1. Introduction
Neville Chamberlain stood on the tarmac of Heston aerodrome on 30 September 1938 and said
"My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time."
On the 1 September 1939 Nazi Germany invaded Poland and as a result sparked the beginning of the Second World War.
 
History does not smile on Neville Chamberlain and his piece of paper was described as worthless.
 
However, he is not alone is he Peace is not easy to hold on to. The world around us has an idea of peace that it finds impossible to sustain. It does not really even know what peace is.
 
We are looking today at the third element of the fruit of the Holy Spirit described in Paul’s letter to the Christians in Galatia.- Peace.
 
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Gal 5:22-23
 
So peace is described by Paul as one aspect of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
So what is this peace?


 
I put a puzzle in the diary this week quite a few of you will be familiar with this kind of puzzle. It is called sudoku and it can be very addictive! This is a simple example and to save time I have moved the puzzle on so that we only need the last three numbers for us to complete the puzzle.
 

6
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2
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5
1
 
4
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1

 
There is a desire in human beings for completion, to finish the puzzle, to resolve the problem.
 
We long for harmony to resolve and bring balance
 
To tuck the label in to our friends jumper. 
 
This is the stuff on the surface but look deeper and you will find this desire for harmony for completeness- to be whole is wired in as a part of us.
 
The meaning of Peace
In the bible we see that the Jewish people were taught by God to have a very different idea of peace to the way the world sees it. The word shalom is so much more than just peace as we consider it - it speaks of rest, completeness, wellbeing.
And whilst the Greek word Eireine drew much of it’s meaning in the New Testament from the influence of the Hebrew it does include the idea of prosperity and rest.
 
But we also know as Peter Garratt said when talking about joy that real peace cannot be found without meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ. A friendship that has resulted in that dynamic baptism in the Holy Spirit.
 
The fruit of the Spirit are just that- of the spirit- and not something that the world has any real grasp of.
 
Peter Garratt used that passage in Philippians 4 when talking about rejoicing in the Lord and it is one that I want us to start at too.
 
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.   
 
What does it say about the Peace of God?
 
It transcends understanding.
 
Let me say right now that all that I have learned about the Peace, shows me that the world really has not got a clue.
 
To the twentyfirst century secular mind peace is not the presence of something but the absence of it. Satan has done it again.
 
Taking one of the core divine principles and turning it upside down and inside out- Peace is considered to be when
  • we are not at war
  • When families are not breaking up
  • when terrorists are not blowing themselves and others up.
 
The only notions of the quality or content of peace are just caricatures
Hippies or anti war demonstrators.
 
But the massive danger is that being peaceful is connected with being, weak, mild, compromising,    
 
Jesus was determined that we should recapture the true meaning of peace.
One of His most famous statements. In John 14
 
He says
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
 
I do not give to you as the world gives
 
But look at the context
 
All this I have spoken while still with you.
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
 
Again it is like Galatians 5 Jesus wants us to see the Peace of God as something of the spirit- It is hard to see in these verses a separation between peace and god’s Holy Spirit.
 
Jesus is constantly referring to peace and let’s look at the contexts in which he does.
 
1 Jesus provokes Prophetic statements concerning the peaceful destiny of mankind
Again Peter Garratt in his exposition of Joy took us to the birth story the angels singing at His birth. What is clear is that Peace is bound together in so many of the prophetic statements in the word of god- not least prophetic statements about Jesus.
 
Wonderful Counsellor, Prince of Peace, Mighty God.
Four expressions that support Peace as being of the Spirit and also a state of strength not weakness.
 
Zechariah, John’s father prophesied a path of peace in Luke 1:79
 
But the angels sang prophetically Peace on Earth. Luke 2:14
 
Simeon in the temple- Now let your servant depart in Peace
It’s ok now- I am complete at Peace.- He is here.Luke 2:29
 
The Triumphal entry
Luke 19: Peace in Heaven Blessed is He…
 
Peace has been foretold as being our destiny through Jesus.
 
2. Jesus connects peace with Health & well-being
Look at two passages first Luke 7:50
Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
 
Compare this with 8:48
Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed.
Lk 8:48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
 
3. Jesus supernaturally invokes peace and asks this of us.
The above passages are examples of this but some of the most powerful examples of the spiritual authority of Jesus are when He bestows peace.
Luke 24: 36 after the resurrection and again even more powerfully in John 20:19 One of my most favourite passages of the bible.
 
Jn 20:19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
Jn 20:20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Jn 20:21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
Jn 20:22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
Jn 20:23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
 
Do you see again the connection again with peace and the spirit of God.
If we are filled with the Spirit we are at peace.
 
But there is another curious aspect to this ‘As the father sent me I am sending you element-
It is when Jesus gave the command that the Church certainly in the west ignores.
 
Lk 10:5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.
Maybe we should be
 
Jesus clearly sees peace as a very real active powerful force.
 
In all there are 21 references to Peace in the Gospels alone and I have focused there to draw out these points about peace.
 
So if we agree that it is not like worldly peace what characterises peace?
 
Well we have already seen that it is rest completeness wholeness.
I believe that true peace is God’s expectation for the condition of human beings.
 
Peace describes God’s ideal state for human beings and forthe world around us.
 
1. Harmony with the creator
2. Harmony with ourselves
3. Harmony with those around us
4. And harmony with creation.
 
It must therefore be a condition of immense strength.
 
To Be Continued!

 

Tim Blake, 17/04/2008