the LORD blesses his people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11)
The question that this raises for me is this: Why don’t I see more peace, in my personal life and in the world around me? If Christmas is the initiation of Peace by way of the incarnation of the Prince of Peace, then where is all the Peace?
Well, what was true before the first advent of the King is still true as we await the second advent. The very definition of sin is our thwarting of God's Shalom.
“There is no peace,” says the LORD, “for the wicked.” (Isaiah 48:22)
The way of peace they do not know;
__there is no justice in their paths.
They have turned them into crooked roads;
__no one who walks in them will know peace. (Isaiah 59:8)
Who were the “wicked” that Isaiah was preaching to? It was the People of God.
And who should we, as Christians, point the finger at if we do not see Peace?
Not at those “humanists” and “godless” people in our culture (as the Religious Right is prone to do), but right at ourselves. If Old Testament texts like these are to be applied to anybody, it must be applied to today's analogue of Israel, the Church.
And this teaching on Peace is carried forward for the New Testament Church. The God of Peace that is spoken of so often in the Old Testament has a lot to say to us in the New Testament. Look at some of these passages.
Paul tells the Philippians,
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)
It seems, then, that the “God of peace will be with us” when we concentrate our minds and efforts on that which is godly.
He tells the Thessalonians,
“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)
I notice that Peace is mentioned in the same breath as sanctification.
Peace, then, is found through doing what God’s will is, seeking to bring Shalom into the world around us. Shalom is a practical, active thing. We are promised Shalom as we participate in the mission of God on earth.
“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20-21)
technorati: spiritual formation, emerging church, Shalom