Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.”
A variety of ways exist to establish and maintain the peace. It may sound contradictory, but sometimes peace requires war. If some nation or group won’t leave their neighbors alone, you might have to send in troops to keep the peace. We may even refer to soldiers as “peace-keepers.”
When people inside a nation can’t get along with each other, sometimes those that govern must rule with an iron hand. In other cases, peace is maintained by getting everyone to come to the table and compromise. Rarely, peace may be bought and paid for with bribery.
All of those roads to peace deal with peace on the outside, between nation and nation or man and man. The peace of Christ is different. It deals with changes on the inside. First, Jesus changed our spiritual circumstances. We were not God’s friends. We didn’t like his rules. Even after we become Christians we still struggle with some of the boundaries he has set.
None of this made God happy, either. “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men,” Paul writes the Romans as he jumps into the main body of his letter. There was no peace between the ruler of heaven and the citizens of the earth.
God didn’t send in an army, call out the police, negotiate a new set of rules, or try to buy better behavior. He introduced the world to his Son. Jesus didn’t resent the rules his heavenly Father had set. He loved them and followed every detail. He was doing more than setting a good example. He was offering our heavenly Father the perfect love and selfless service he demanded on our behalf.
Then Jesus released us from the consequences of our lawbreaking. He didn’t leave us to figure out a solution for ourselves. He gave up his life for ours. He paid all our debt in the currency of his own blood. He took our place on the cross. Jesus left his Father with nothing more to hold against us. He secured forgiveness for a world at war with its Maker. He established peace in God’s heart toward men.
Then he went to work on our hearts. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.”
Cliff was mad at God for the kind of life that he has been dealt. His wife abandoned him for no good reason. Then she managed to take almost everything they built up together in divorce court. He lost a job he loved in another state. Then he was stuck with work he didn’t love so much. He didn’t become an atheist, but he’s sure someone is out to get him.
What if Cliff were convinced that God is on his side all the time? The truth is that God doesn’t live with a more-or-less constant grudge against him. Like all of us, he has been forgiven. God hasn’t singled him out for bad treatment. When God came to live as one of us on earth, Jesus suffered every bit as much as Cliff, and then so much more. He did it just because he loved him so much and wanted to save him, not hurt him.
However his life may go here on earth, it is just a drop in the bucket compared to eternity. Jesus holds out the promise of eternal pleasures, basking in God’s light and love in heaven. What if Cliff’s heart was convinced of this?
What if our hearts were convinced of this? Then we would have peace, wouldn’t we? Then we would interpret everything that happens to us differently. Suffering is a form of fellowship with Jesus. It is evidence of a loving Father’s helpful discipline. Losses are God’s way of making sure we hold on to earthly things loosely. They keep us from trading the real heaven for a counterfeit one. Death is God’s way of evacuating us from a dangerous and evil world to take us to a safe and holy one.
When we believe, when we know, when we remember that God is always on our side as a loving and forgiving Father, then we believe, then we know, then we remember that everything is working for our good. All is well in my life. We have peace, the peace of Christ that rules in our hearts.