Let us pray: Dear Savior, in a world filled with war and bloodshed how comforting it is to know that You’re not at war with us. How comforting it is to know that You have signed a peace treaty with human beings—signed it in blood. May we all embrace Your way of inner peace by embracing You through faith. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO HAS RECONCILED US TO GOD ON THE CROSS!
TEXT: Ephesians 2: 13-22
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Like all of you, I find the current world events unsettling. In our preshrunk world of jet airplane travel, instantaneous internet updates, and the interdependent global economy you cannot retreat or escape from bloodshed and violence. All these factors have combined to make Islamofascist terrorism our reality. Some have said that we’re in the early stages of WWIII. Personally I agree. And to win this battle our nation will have to rediscover its moral underpinnings. The next decade will tell the tale.
Of course, the rise of violence and terrorism coupled with the beating back of such evil is really the history of humanity. The children of Israel experienced it in Egypt and later in Palestine. The early church experienced it when Rome crumbled. During the dark ages Western Europe experienced it, too. And some of you have also lived through this same cosmic battle played out in WWII and the Cold War.
And yet, God preserves His Church, His people. In fact, He promises us: “Never will I leave nor forsake you.” That is our hope and comfort. That is our joy. That is our strength.—God loves us in Jesus Christ and will protect and preserve us. And the reason why is that on the cross Christ won peace between God and mankind. His life for ours. And so, in Him we have:
THE ONLY PEACE THAT MATTERS
It is popular today to link Islam, Judaism, and Christianity together. Various T.V. shows have done this. They point out that all come from the same geographic area—the Middle East, that all have a monotheistic God, and that all borrow from the Old Testament in various ways. However, that view is false. For Christianity is totally distinct in that it alone teaches that God made peace with sinful humans by giving His life for ours on a cross. Only Christianity teaches that man can never earn salvation, or eternal peace with God, but that God’s Son earned it for us and gives it to us as a free gift through faith. Thus, only Christianity uplifts humans and makes them immeasurably valuable—for God died for our souls. That’s why the Christian elements of Western culture value human life so highly vs. all other world religions.
St. Paul recounts this fact when he writes: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” Yes, we were far away from God’s truth of selfless love and forgiveness. We were born with ideas of revenge and retribution. Humans cause wars because they are at war with God’s goodness, with their own inadequacies. Those inadequacies are all the result of sin. And yet, in love God has paid for all sin by the blood of Christ.
“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”
With these words, Paul is addressing the internal divide in all of us between our physical side and our spiritual side. God made all of us with a body and a soul. And the violence of the world is but an outgrowth of the inner warfare between our bodies and our souls. All false religions try to bridge this gap between the “evil that I do and I don’t want to do it and the good that I want to do and don’t.” They try to bridge that gap of inner guilt and frustration by attempting to earn God’s favor through zealousness. But, no matter how hard people try they cannot be perfect enough or good enough to earn inner peace, or outer peace with God. For we’re all mortal sinners. However, in love God bridged the gap! He sent Christ Who took on human flesh and a human soul. He sent Christ to pay the penalty that human hubris demands—death before God. And so Paul preaches not warfare, but peace from God, to both those schooled in the Old Testament and to those who know nothing of it. Yes, Christianity is a universal religion in that God welcomes all sinners to His fold through humble faith in Christ.
Christ is God’s instrument of change in that Christ has restored fallen sinners and made them part of God’s eternal family. And as part of that eternal family, Christ also provides the basis of a new life. A life that can stand firm against the warlike onslaughts of this world. “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (the entire Bible) with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
None of you would embarrass or knowingly bring pain or suffering upon your families. None of you would willingly seek to hurt your brother or your sister, or murder them—unless you were filled with hate. Well, you and I are part of a much bigger family than our blood ties. By God’s grace we’re part of His family of believers. Our lives are built on something new and exciting—forgiveness and Godly truth—as found in the Bible. We’re built on Christ. We’re joined together in Him so that the Spirit dwells within us. Yes, we possess the only peace that truly matters—peace with God. Amid an increasingly dangerous world dwell on that, my friends, and then the center of your lives will hold no matter what Satan throws your way. Amen