Saturday, July 6, 2013

"Grace and Peace Be Multiplied to You" Pt.2

“Peace be yours” is a blessing we receive eagerly. We want peace. But what kind of peace does Christ call us to?

The Old Testament tells us that for the ancient Israelites, peace was the result of God's favor, protection, forgiveness, and material provision. Peace was God-given safety from enemies. It was the freedom to live godly, dignified, and securely in the Promised Land.
But there was a kind of peace that the Israelites only had a foretaste of.  It was the peace that would be ushered in by the everlasting reign of the Messiah, when all God's enemies would be conquered, all sins destroyed, death defeated, and God's people restored to perfect communion with Him.

This isn't idle daydreaming, or wishful thinking. This is God's promise in the pages of Scripture. “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea,” says Habakkuk 2:14.

Friends, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, has come! By His death on the cross, He redeemed sinners, and by His resurrection, He conquered death. The gospel is being proclaimed throughout the world. The Holy Spirit is gathering people from every race, culture and nation, and uniting them as brothers and sisters in the Church.

And yet, the apostle Peter says, we are still strangers and aliens. This is not our world. Sin continues to dominate. People break God's laws with impunity, seemingly without any consequences. Poverty dominates most people's lives. Death is still the inescapable reality of life, and for many, it comes too soon and with much pain. Meanwhile, the Church seems to be too small, too poor, and too weak to solve these problems. Christianity continues to be the world's most persecuted religion.

In such circumstances, can we experience peace today? Or should we just curl up in a corner of our rooms, waiting for Christ's Second Coming? One way to pursue peace today would be to live just to please ourselves, trying to enjoy every momentary pleasure from life. But this is just a short-lived peace.

Christ wants us to have a peace that surpasses all understanding, that can't be taken away by life's challenges and hardships. This peace comes from knowing that God loves us so much He gave His only Son to die for our sins, and that He is so faithful that He causes all things to work for our good. This peace comes from knowing that God is building and perfecting His Church—yes, even those brethren you secretly dislike, and yes, even you! This peace comes from knowing that even though sin and Satan are still the masters of the earth, their time is running out.

With this peace, we can grow in holiness, we can take risks for the glory of God, we can serve one another, and we can be salt and light to a lost and dying world.
Brothers and sisters, “peace be yours in the fullest measure.”

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"Grace and Peace Be Multiplied to You" Pt.1

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