Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Foundation of True Peace

This is the 3rd post to a new feature in my blog - "Perfect Peace - Hope for the Weary Soul." Planning to make this at least a weekly update. I've been quite busy this past week, finishing up the final edits on my first novel co-authored with Gary Smalley and developing the storyline for Book 2. I'll try to post a more fuller update sometime this week. If you're curious, feel free to "Like" my author page on Facebook (usually post to that once a day). You can get there by clicking here.

But enough on that, I thought before we look further into the specific, practical things God's Word says about experiencing His peace, we should lay a proper foundation. So let's talk about the foundation of True Peace, or...what is necessary to experience real peace in our souls at a foundational level. And also why the overwhelming majority of people never seem to experience it.

At the Last Supper, Jesus said many profound things to His disciples; some of them were troubling to hear. At one point to comfort their hearts, He told them this: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” (John 14:27, NKJV). Peace is a wonderful thing, especially in times of trouble.

Everyone wants peace in their personal life and the world to be at peace, right?

Well, not everybody. It can’t be everybody or we’d have it already, wouldn’t we? I grew up in the sixties, during the height of the Vietnam War. I vividly remember the “peace protests” on the news. Thousands of protestors fighting with hundreds of policemen in riot gear, holding up signs that cried out for peace. Think of the irony: thousands of people screaming, swearing, punching, throwing rocks, breaking windows, being injured and causing injuries to others in an effort to bring about world peace. Some “peace protestors” actually set off bombs and killed people.

True peace is an elusive thing.

I read an article by a military general who’d said in the seven-thousand years of recorded history, man has only known peace on earth 5% of the time. Isn’t that amazing…and sad? I think I believe that statistic. Just looking back at the last one hundred years, it certainly seems true. All the men who fought and survived World War I are dead now but, at the time, it was so horrible and so devastating and conducted on such a massive scale, when it was over it was dubbed “the war to end all wars.”

People at the time were certain man had finally learned his lesson, that whatever our differences may be, war was not the answer. And yet, just twenty-one years later World War II began, plunging the world into an even larger conflict on an even grander scale, killing over five times as many people.

Why? How could such a thing be possible?

Five years later, came the Korean War. Then in the sixties and early seventies, the Vietnam War. Besides these conflicts, there was the ever-present threat of nuclear annihilation between the United States and the Soviet Union. Then, just as that threat seemed to dissipate when the Soviet Union fell apart, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and the Gulf War began. Less than a decade later, 9-11 occurred and a new war on terror began; our soldiers were off fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

These are just the conflicts that have involved the United States. Dozens of other wars between other nations occurred during this time.

I mean…can’t we all just…get along? Apparently not.

Like I said, true peace is an elusive thing. In the world, and in our hearts. If you ask me, only one thing is required for wars to keep happening and relational conflicts between people to keep occurring, from now until the end of the age. Do you know what that one thing is?

People being born.

That’s it. Here’s the equation: Keep having babies = No peace on earth.

Everyone knows those cuddly, cute, almost angelic little beings we take home from the hospital will turn on their parents and start demanding their own way, even before their first birthday. It happens without exception. Doesn’t matter if they’re a boy or girl, born here or in any other country or culture around the world. Children will rebel against anyone who tries to tell them what to do, even when those leading them have the best interest of the child at heart.

Why is this?

Have you ever wondered why we never have to teach or train children how to be bad or misbehave? Every single one of them knows how to do this instinctively. There are no exceptions to this rule. It’s as certain as any universal law of science. Children will be selfish and seek to do as they please. They will argue and fight with each other, and with those who try to guide them.

Again…why is this so? Especially if it’s true that man is born basically good. Where is the evidence for this…basic goodness? I see no trace of it. All we see, and all we’ve ever seen since mankind appeared on the earth, is conflict between people. In marriages and families, at school and work, in neighborhoods and cities, and between nations. Why?

The Bible tells us plainly. We are all born in a condition it refers to as “sin.” What is the essence of sin? It is man going his own way, doing his own thing (or at least seeking to), while living with other men and women seeking the very same thing. And all this without any interest or desire in seeking to please the will of Him who made us. In Isaiah 53:6, it says: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way.”

This is why we have no peace, not in the world or within our hearts; nor can we ever have true peace on our own. Because the foundation of true peace is missing. True peace can only come to us, is only possible for us, when we enter into peace with God. The very next line in Isaiah 53 says: “And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity (sin) of us all.”

The prophet is referring to Jesus Christ, what He did on the cross. Jesus came to earth, sent by His Father, free from the contamination of sin. He lived His entire life obeying all of God’s commands and resisting every temptation, so that He might become a perfect sacrifice for our sin. Having lived this way, He then offered Himself on the cross in our place, so that the wrath we deserve for all our sins―all of our selfishness and disobedience, all the times we did our own thing instead of obeying God―could be poured out on Jesus instead of us.

This, my friends, is true love. The love of God at work in the most profound way possible. Jesus died for our sins and obtained for us a full and complete pardon from God. That is, if we put our faith in Him and what He’s done for us on the cross.

Receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is the foundation of true peace. We can never expect to have peace in our hearts, or with others, until we first experience peace with God.

We'll look at where True Peace is found next time.

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