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Archive for the tag “peace”

On the Earth Peace?

And when He was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God comes not with observation:  Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”  (Luke 17:20-21)

He's got the whole world in His hands.Every Christmas, we often hear the phrase “peace on Earth, good will toward men” and its evocative implication of a world free of envy, strife and division, absent of violence. Peace implies order and calm and placid living. Yet, we look around and clearly see evidence of peacelessness, hatred, torment and fear. If the birth of Christ brought on Earth peace, and if Jesus accomplished what He was sent to do, as He claimed, why don’t we see more evidence of what He gave to humanity?

Where do we find peace on Earth?

The power and potential contained within this declaration depend upon one’s proximity to the peace Giver.

Emmanuel (God with us), the everlasting Father, Prince of peace, almighty God and Savior, the I AM – without beginning and without end – took upon Himself the form of a man for our sake. He became flesh and dwelt among us so that we could see and touch God, get to know Him and observe Him living as one of us. If we look at Him, we can see what peace means.

After showing us what God is like for 33 ½ years, He allowed us to take His own holy Scriptures, wrongly interpret them through human reasoning and the avarice of the flesh, and pass judgment against Him as a man worthy of death. He accepted this outrageous sentence, remained silent as He heard the cries for His blood to fall upon the hands of His fellow Jews and willingly died on the cross. He could have called legions of angels to remove Him and destroy the Earth He had created, yet He let His own creation mutilate, hate and murder its Creator. This was all to prove a point: humanity is incapable of creating peace on Earth without God. We need something better than ourselves, higher than ourselves and stronger than ourselves.

As we know, Jesus rose from the dead after three days and nights. He appeared to His disciples, showed Thomas His pierced hands and side. He commissioned those disciples to take His good news and share it throughout the Earth. He breathed upon them, telling them to receive the Holy Spirit. He then ascended to the heavens, promising to return one day. On the day of Pentecost, He did return by indwelling those same disciples, the 120 who tarried in an upper room according to His command, with His very Spirit. They were transformed on the spot. Peace on Earth moved in to them that day, it moved in to abide within the spirit of men. The precedent for establishing the kingdom of God was introduced. The church was born.

As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name. Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)

Since that day, the better, higher and stronger can live within us. We are not born with God indwelling us, as some claim. He does not usurp our will and take up residence without our permission. He wants to be invited.

With the incorruptible seed of Christ formed within us, we can at once see the kingdom and the peace it heralds. We become citizens of this realm, recognizing Christ as its King and honoring Him as the monarch. His Kingship is benevolent, merciful, full of grace and truth, wise and administered with justice and right judgment. We become heirs along with Him. One of the benefits He gives is peace.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

If Christ lives within, there is no closer proximity we could have to Him. He is the onboard GPS of the soul, guiding it moment by moment, step by step. Our part is to follow. In order to do this successfully, we must tell our lesser impulses, “No.” This is the path of peace. The longer we walk along this path and the better we do at regarding what the King says, the more we think and act like Him. That’s the point. We can be changed from peaceless and warlike to peaceful and peace loving. Better yet, we can become instruments of peace ourselves.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. (Matthew 5:9)

Having peace on Earth means that a person can face any situation peacefully, even the ones that are most fearful, tragic, angering or unjust. It means having a different perspective and a different reaction. A person like this becomes easier to live with the more fully he/she grasps what they are. A person like this tends to spread peace to those around him/her. It starts out small and grows over time. Jesus started his Earthly journey as a baby in an unknown manger and ended it as the king of Kings and lord of Lords. He invites us to partake of His victory.

This kingdom has already triumphed.

One soul at a time, on the Earth peace.

For Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven…

I’ve been thinking about this quote all day. It caught my attention this morning. I am one of those mended traitors.

Lewis‘ statement drives home the point Jesus made when He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) One cannot fully partake of this kingdom filled with unbankruptable resources, unlimited power and unending peace until one is willing to see him/herself as a paupered orphan in need of adoption by the Father of all, a renegade from the absolute laws of the universe who is nonetheless invited to become an heir of the highest King.

This is where every salvation story starts. We stubbornly insist upon viewing ourselves as capable enough, good enough and smart enough to have it all and more without ever needing to resort to God. This is our natural way of thinking.  It doesn’t sound like a blessing to find out that we are poor sinners with no hope of measuring up to a perfect God by our own means. But, oh, how great a blessing it is, for from this lowered, humbled vantage point we first catch sight of what the kingdom of heaven offers.

The essence of humility is recognizing that the highest purpose we can attain to as humans is dependence upon God. There is no other way for man to attain his highest end. “Who, being in the form of God, did not seek the glory in the flesh of being God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8) And – “…the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing.” (John 5:19)

While operating as a reflex of the mind of God, the Scriptures tell us that Jesus did so much good upon the Earth that the number of books which could be written about it could fill the planet. This tells me that full participation in the kingdom of heaven results in tremendous blessings for the Earth and its residents.

If Jesus, the one and only person who never sinned, lived in complete dependence upon God and reaped results like that, why don’t we follow His example more closely? Because we are earthly minded. We think ourselves rich in so many ways much as a young child thinks he can cross a busy parking lot without holding mom’s hand.

There is nothing attractive about God or obedience to God within the insulation of self-righteousness, self-reliance, and self-rule. The life Jesus lived and then gave away seems repelling, stultifying and grotesque when we are in this mode. “…He has no form or comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.” (Isaiah 53:2b)

But arriving at the last outpost of one’s own ways, at wit’s end, the whole thing begins to look much different. It begins to sound like sweet music to hear that God offers amnesty to traitors. How is it possible?

  • Sin is defined as “any want of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God.” (Easton’s Bible Dictionary)
  • The justice (or wage) earned by sinning is death.
  • Jesus, by not yielding to sin a single time, earned the justice given to a perfect, sinless person: eternal life and victory over death, a seat at the right hand of God, a name higher than any other name, all enemies made a footstool.
  • Jesus volunteered to trade sentences with us. He took our sentence of death upon Himself, conquered it by His resurrection and has the right to impute the justice He earned to us.

No fortune of man, no noble deed, no earnest desire can exterminate sin. Only one thing can remove it from us – the blood of Jesus. God’s love for His fallen creation is so great that He, as Lord of all, chose to empty Himself and pay the ultimate price to restore us to His original intent for man – to live happily in full relationship with our Creator and with one another. He knew that this would not be possible unless He saved us from the consequence of our own free will to reject His parenting, His kingship. What higher form of love could one imagine?

The blood that Jesus shed when He died in our place is the antidote to sin and death. He is our amnesty, our way back.

If you have failed to measure up and you admit it, you are blessed. If you know that you need help beyond yourself, you are blessed. Make the trade. Offer the little half-empty shot glass holding the extent of your resources to God, and, in return, gain access to the entire storehouse of His kingdom. You’ll wonder why you waited so long!

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