Peace in Christ (Sermon)
Preached in Worcester on 11-18-07
If you took a poll and asked people what they would like to see in the world one of the top answers is peace. There are celebrities who protest for peace and websites that talk about world peace. People are always looking for peace. We want peace in the Middle East, peace in our schools and peace in our homes.
In our homes
How many homes in our society are broken or in some kind of disorder. Single parents, fighting, abuse. All kinds of things going on, we want peace in our homes.
In our nation
In our society in our nation we want peace. We have violence all around us and people hurting and abusing others. We have people in government taking advantage of others. Most people would like peace in our nation.
In our worlds
And of course there have always been people who have thought about this issue on a global scale and want peace on earth. We have a war on terrorism, war on drugs, war, war, war. People have no hope or peace in this world but we want it and are trying to find it. And different people look for peace in different ways.
1) The world can't find peace
a. In politics
i. Some people work and hope that politics can bring about peace. Some people think that if we just get the right people into office they will be able to make this world peaceful. Set up laws and enforce them. But the problem is politicians are human and that means their sinful. If you could take out the human element in politics you might have a chance but that's not going to happen. You see politicians are liars and they forget things and change their minds on things they can become greedy or just stop caring. We have had politics and politicians around for thousands of years and it hasn't brought about peace. They're sinners like the rest of us so there is no hope for peace in politics.
ii. Does that mean we should give up on voting and caring about political issues and such? No, we are given those rights and privileges in this country and we should vote with our hearts and minds focused on Christ but we don't look to politics or politicians for peace. Don't put your hope for peace in politics.
b. In money
i. Some people think that money can buy us peace. I stand behind some of them in line at the convenient store. As they stand there and look intently over the numbers there going to pick out or look at the different colored scratch tickets to buy and they hope that one of these tickets will bring them peace by winning millions of dollars. Or we think if I only work 80 hours a week and make the big bucks as I climb the ladder of success then I will have peace because of my wealth. The problem is that money doesn’t solve our hurts and problems. You end up with new problems and in fact many people who are rich have lives that are far more chaotic and worrisome then the average person. Lotto winners tend to have even more problems. Lie awake at night wondering what new long lost relative will show up tomorrow to ask for some money or if their bank is ripping them off or if their financial advisor is a crook. They often end up broke or in jail or in divorce court. No there is no peace to be found in money, no real peace.
1. "It's been said that money is a purchaser of anything except happiness (and Peace)."
c. In education
i. Some think that all we really need is education. Education is the answer to everything. If your old or young, tall or skinny. What we all really need is more education. If we educate our selves and the people around us and our nation things will be happier and more peaceful. And it sometimes sounds like a good idea but did you know that it was one of the most educated nations on earth that gave rise to the Nazi's? Was there an increase in peace in that nation?
ii. Is education a bad thing? No, but it's not the answer for peace.
2) There is peace only found in Christ
True peace is only found in Christ. True, lasting peace is only found in Christ.
a. Peace with God
i. The first thing we need to realize is that this world is in chaos and unrest because of sin. Because of our sin. Sin entered the world when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden and from that time on we have continued to sin and infect this world with sin. That sin has not only caused our world to be at war and in a state of unrest but it has caused us to be alienated from our God. Our sin makes us enemies of God; we were enemies of God by our own choosing and doing.
1. ESV Romans 5:6 ¶ For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
2. Colossians 1:21 21 ¶ Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.
ii. But all that changed when Christ came to this earth to die for our sins and set us back in that relationship that was lost because of our sins. We read in
1. ESV Romans 5:1 ¶ Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
2. You see we owed a debt that we couldn't pay. We sing a song that uses those words. It's true; we owed a debt to God that we could never pay. Christ died to pay that and make us right and righteous in God's eyes. We enjoy the peace that comes from being made right with God through Jesus Christ.
3. We have an inner peace with ourselves as we realize that yes we sin, and in fact we couldn't count all our sins and the payment for sin is death but those in Christ, who have given their lives to him, are at peace within because we know that Christ took our sins upon himself and set us free. That knowledge gives us peace with in because we have peace with God.
b. Peace with others
i. Not only do we have peace with God but we have peace with others.
1. Ephesians 2:13-18 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
a. This section talks a lot about peace in 6 verses the word peace is found 4 times expressly mentioned. But more than just finding the word the concept of peace is found throughout this passage.
b. Now Paul is talking about the Jew and Gentile hostility that was between them. The Jew thought of the Gentiles as unfit and pagan idolaters, they were not permitted to eat with them, in fact we find this problem being addressed by Paul as he has a talk with Peter who started to draw back from eating with the Gentile Christians due to some Jewish Christians coming around. But the fact is that not only did the Jews and Gentiles have problems and there was this hostility between them but there is often hostility between people of different cultures and skin color. Not only that but also hostility between people who have money and those who don't have money people who are Democrats and people who are republicans. But In Christ all that hostility is done away with because Christ makes the two one. We in this room today are a great example of what Christ does. Jesus brought us here today. We have some from Africa and others from America and some from Jamaica and I'm sure from other places. We have people whose skin color is light and others with dark. Some are low income and others are high. But we all have one thing in common we are all one in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek slave nor free male nor female, neither African or American neither poor nor rich. All are one in Christ and that brings about peace, he (Christ) is our peace. It is a wonderfully amazing thing that Christ has done. I wouldn't know probably any of you or very few of you if it were not for Christ and I count that a blessing that he created peace and brought us together.
i. There have been people who were terrorists who wanted nothing more than to kill Christians and they came to Christ and are now no longer at war with Christians but are one in Christ with those same ones they were going to kill.
c. Peace in this world
i. We can even have peace in this world. That doesn’t mean that we will live in a place were we never get hurt or when things never get chaotic but it means that we find our peace in Christ and no matter what is going on around us we can have peace in this world.
1. You know I don't worry about the war on terrorism or about Binladin. I don't worry if China is going to nuke us because I am in Christ and he is in control of all this world and universe. Nothing will surprise him and nothing is out of his control.
a. In Ephesians 1:20-23 it talks about Christ being far above all rule or authority.
b. Colossians 1:15-17 15 ¶ He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
c. There is a similar thought found in John 1:1-3
d. ESV John 1:1 ¶ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
2. Jesus is in control and he created all things, Jesus is God and knows all things. I can have peace in this world because I know who controls it all and he is faithful. No matter what happens in this world I know Christ is the ruler and all powers bow to his will. If I am to stay alive here on this planet it's to his glory and he will guide me and if I am to die I go to be with him and live in eternal joy, and peace, and love.
3. Christians often don't access this peace because we don't remember who is really in control and how much power and wisdom he has.
a. John 14:27 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
ii. The peace we have in Christ is not what the world is seeking and tells us we need. The peace we have in Christ is far superior to that.
1. Isaiah 26:3-4 3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. 4 Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.
a. Peace 'midst life's storms
b. Two artists put upon canvas their concepts of peace. One artist painted a placid rural scene in the center of which was a country home. Adjacent to the home were fertile fields and an abundant harvest. The rolling roads stretched in different directions from the home toward the horizon. A lazy haze hovered over glen and vale. One could almost hear the rustle of the ripened wheat, swayed with the kiss of the gentile breeze. A friendly sun shone upon the blissful picture of calm and contentment. Cows lay lazily under a shade tree, chewing their cuds.
c. The other artist gave a totally different concept of peace. A destroying storm raged in his painting. The trees swayed to and fro on the storm-lashed mountainside and in the valley. The sky was ominous and gloomy, relieved only by the zigzag flashes of lightning. A roaring waterfall lunged furiously over the precipice, working disaster in the valley below! Why could the artist call this violent, turbulent scene a representation of peace? On a rock projecting from the cliff, sheltered by an overhanging boulder, sat a little bird calmly on its nest, seemingly unmindful of the howling storm or of the raging waters which plunged downward nearby. There the little bird sat in peace, with no fear, undisturbed!
d. In this world we live and move and have our being in the midst of turmoil, tribulation, strain, stress, and storms. But it's inwardly where we set our hearts on God and that is where we find peace no matter the situation. Just as the scripture I read in Isaiah says " Isaiah 26:3-4 3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. 4 Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock".
3) This peace surpasses understanding
a. We can have peace even in conflict or chaos knowing that God is in control and we are secure in Christ.
b. We can have peace when we have little in terms of the physical because God takes care of us and we realize what is truly important, that is a relationship with God.
c. We can have peace in the good times as we focus on what God has done for us and we are able to enjoy those good times with a richer, fuller, and more powerful joy.
d. The fact is even if everything around us is going well and seems calm if we don't have inner peace then we are not in a time of peace.
i. An English psychiatrist wrote: "With peace in his soul a man can face the most terrifying experiences. But without peace in his soul he cannot manage even a simple task as writing a letter."
Brethren we have peace with God through Jesus Christ who brought us back into that relationship.
We have peace with others as Christ has taken people from all walks of life and made us one in him.
And we have peace in this world as we keep our eyes on Christ and remember that "All authority in heaven and on earth" is Christ' and he will "never leave you nor forsake you."