Everywhere you look you will see the enormous price the world is paying for killing the heavenly messenger, the only begotten Son of God, but try as you may you can neither avoid the veracity of his powerful message nor the systematic failures of man-made solutions. Let's face the truth head on and call a spade a spade; mankind is clueless, and insincere and chronically ineffective in helping him out of the spiritual, moral and social quagmire in which he finds himself; a quagmire totally of his own making and one that will eventually swallow him up and spew him out in the bowels of eternal hell.
While we are at it let's face some more facts and acknowledge that man is a pest on this earth and totally destructive, and everywhere he goes he leaves his distinct mark - devastation. There is no venture where man encroaches that the result vary from this sickening paradigm. Watch out Mars; God help you if people ever manage to reside there.
Man and peace do not go together for long.
In Europe, where so much of the world's misery has been born, wars have been endemic for all its existence, and some wars lasted for decades; and at least one for a hundred years. Europe has inflicted the world with two universal wars, its incursions into continents beyond its borders have been reckless, destructive and unconscionable. The European Diaspora, i.e. the Americans, have adopted the same model and in their latest shenanigans in Iraq and Afghanistan have sown seeds of abject misery the fruits of which are becoming clearer as new horror stories are coming to light. Combine these types of aggressions with the nefarious internecine hostilities in society and warfare between tribes and neighbours and gangs and you have the sad spectacle of enduring human conflict.
Jesus preached and lived his message.
Modern day believers understand and appreciate the enormous contribution Jesus Christ made, and is still making, to all aspects of human existence by his life and message on earth. All that Jesus stood for, all his teachings and insights, all his reflections and concepts are encapsulated in the eponymous Sermon on the Mount.
The Sermon on the Mount is the greatest message ever preached and if you knew nothing else about Jesus, other than his preaching this sermon, then you would be in possession of all you need to understand what man is all about, his descent from grace, his desperate, failed attempts to save himself and his self-determined destiny.
We must never forget that in Jesus' day there were warmongers among the Jews who were agitated and carried out acts of violence against the Roman occupiers and none more so than a group called the Zealots. The Zealots were fiercely nationalistic, militants who refused to pay tribute to the Romans, were defeated and scattered and became a lawless band of roving bandits. One of Jesus' disciples was a Zealot and carried a sword and it was he who, in the Garden of Gethsemane cut off the high priest's servant's ear (Matthew 26:51)
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus preached a broad-based sermon that had relevance to those living in that time as well as today and he said this:
"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called sons of God." (Matthew 5: 9) We don't often do this but in truth the inference we can draw from this is crystal clear; if peacemakers are blessed then warmongers are cursed.
People who go about creating strife, looking for opportunities to exploit divisions, seeking financial and commercial gain with their mantra, "where there is peace let me ferment war", are ill at ease with peace and tranquillity are the very people censured by Jesus Christ. For good reason the Bible refers to Jesus Christ as the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) and all believers following in his footsteps become like him; peacemakers.
Burton Coffman in his Bible Commentary says this:
"There are several ways in which God's children can serve as peacemakers: (1) Through spiritual instruction, they can bring peace to hearts that are troubled. (2) They can bring peace to their fellow men who are at strife between or among themselves. (3) They can bring men, through preaching God's word, or teaching it, to become reconciled to God, which is the greatest of all the achievements of the peacemaker...Such shall be called the sons of God because they are most like God in his efforts to reconcile man unto himself.
The message of peace is the message of the cross, the message of Jesus' ministry, the message from God the Father and the message believers take to every hilltop and mountain, to every town and valley, to every man and woman and child on earth until the message resounds with utmost clarity and impacts every hearer until its truth is embraced and its benefits wholeheartedly welcomed.
Man need not be at war with God.
The peace of God is recommended here because, "There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked." (Isaiah 48:22) and in the absence of that peace we have conflict, hence the need for heavenly assistance, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27); "Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them." (Psalm 119:165); "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." (Isaiah 26:3)
Man need not be at war with his neighbour.
Communal peace and harmony is the essence of right living: "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore." (Psalm 133:1-3); "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." (Hebrews 12:14); "Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you." (2 Corinthians 13:11)
Man need not be at war with himself.
Personal peace, the peace of conscience and mind is essential to avoid internal conflict: "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7); "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." ( Galatians 5:1); "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful." ( Colossians 3:15)
There are not many things you do in this life that will be without controversy but busying yourself with the business of peace is surely one of them. Even the secular world understands the value of this essential service and the Nobel Peace Prize is still the most coveted award available today.
The old saints, in the days when conflicts were a way of life, understood and endorsed the sentiments of peace as epitomised by the highly respected Isaiah, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!" (Isaiah 52:7)
In killing the messenger they intended killing the message, but how very wrong they turned out to be for the message lives on and every beneficiary of its sentiments rejoices that it does.
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Dr. Henderson Ward received his Doctor of Divinity in theology, with distinction, from Masters International School of Divinity, USA, where he is currently a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Ward's career involved pastoring, evangelism, and teaching. Copyright 2013
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