Jehovah-shalom, Part 2: The Lord is Peace

04.28.08

    "...who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance."  1 Peter 1:2

    The word "peace" is used in the NIV 251 times.  It occurs in 230 verses.  It's obviously an important aspect of belief in God.  In many of the verses, Christ says that He has come not in peace but with a sword (Matthew 10:34).  And in many of them He tells us to go in peace.

    Because the Bible is the inerrant word of God, both of these are true to who God is.  Christ did not bring peace to the earth in the way that was expected.  He did not take over the earthly throne. He did not restore God's "chosen" people politically. 

    His idea of peace meant that we would die to ourselves and discover the only true peace through this death.  It had absolutely nothing to do with our earthly expectations.  He came with a sword because He came to kill us...to kill our flesh that desires things that are not of Him.  He came to slay our lust and our pride.  He came to eliminate our selfish advances and our evil intentions.  He came that we might die.  He died that we might live.

    I don't know about you, but dying to myself is a pretty turbulent picture.  It's not something that brings to mind quiet waters and gentle wind.  It's a picture of death and destruction, sacrifice and sweat, tears and gnashing of teeth.  It's pandemonium.

    It's pandemonium only because I love my flesh.  It provides me with a tremendous amount of fun and excitement.  It's comfortable to me.  It doesn't take work to indulge it.  It's like going into Ben & Jerry's and being able to eat all the ice cream I want.  Not hard to do.  It's enjoyable.  Oh the Chunky Monkey and Phish Food that could be had.

    But then the food-hangover comes...when you know you've overdone it and wishing desperately that you hadn't.  This is why we can't live in "peace" with our flesh.  The cost is high and the unrest is eternal.  This is why Christ came to bring division (Luke 12:51).  This is why He says that in Him, there is peace (John 16:33).  This is why the angels declared to the shepherds "and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests."  The angels are keenly aware of the reality  that without Jesus, peace is not possible, turmoil is certain.

    If you want a lifetime of food hangovers and quick fixes, living in the flesh is for you -- Christ is not.  If you want to go to sleep at night with your pride to keep you company, you won't be interested in what He has to offer.  If your favorite thing to do is look better than everyone else, His peace will allude you.  If you put people down to make yourself feel better, His peace will not appeal to you.  If you argue with people incessantly because you are always right, His intentions for you will go unfulfilled.

    He came to humble us as He himself became humble.  He came to give us not only life, but abundant life.  That means shutting up when you want desperately to air your opinions.  That means loving your enemies when they act unlovable, helping others before you help yourself, forgiving someone who has hurt you.  Abundant life = living as Christ.  Jesus did not come to make you comfortable.  He came to give us true peace. 

    Jehovah-shalom wants nothing less than our death...so that He may have our hearts completely.  Now how's that for a battle?

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