Peace in this world is a rare commodity. The Bible begins with man at peace with God in Genesis and ends with mankind at peace forever in Revelation. But between the beginning and the end, there is very little of it. The entrance of sin brought an end to lasting peace in this world until the day the Prince of Peace returns.
The subject of peace is popular to talk about, but rarely experienced. Someone calculated that from 36 BC to AD 1968 there were 14,553 known wars. Since 1958 over 100 nations have been in some kind of armed conflict. Since 1945 there have been 75 wars and over 200 outbreaks of violence. One cynic said, “Peace is that glorious moment in history when everyone stops to reload.”
Why do we have such a lack of peace? James wrote, “What causes wars and fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel” (James 4:1-2). A lack of peace is produced by greed, lust for power, pride, and selfishness.
In the section of the Sermon on the Mount called the Beatitudes, Jesus pronounces blessing on various acts of service done by His followers. A promise of happiness follows each of the beatitudes exemplified in Matthew 5. In verse 9, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
Jesus calls on His followers to be peacemakers—to be about sowing harmony. However, the peace He desires has nothing to do with politics or armies. Kings, presidents or diplomats will not bring God’s peace. It will not be hammered out around a table at “peace talks.” God’s peace begins internally, on a personal level, and can only be given by God. But when received, it becomes visible in His children.
1. The Meaning of Peace
The peace Christ desires is more than an absence of conflict. His desired peace goes much deeper. It brings a calm, restores fellowship, and reconciles opposing parties. It recognizes the enemy of peace, which is sin. Sin separates people from God and from one another. Sin results in disharmony, sadness and guilt. Sin brings wars, fights, disputes, arguments and chaos among people and nations.
If the cause of disharmony is sin—the first step to peace is repentance. To repent of sin means recognizing and confessing it. When John the Baptist came, he preached “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). Jesus began His ministry preaching, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Later He said, “except you repent you shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). Peter preached “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19). A step toward peace is a step away from sin.
2. The Maker of Peace
God, Himself, is the source of true peace. He is called “the God of peace…through the blood of the everlasting covenant” (Hebrews 13:20). The Messiah was prophesied to be called “Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
Our Lord Jesus, by His death on the cross, brings us peace with God. “Having made peace through the blood of His cross…to present you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in His sight” (Colossians 1:20, 22). When sinners repent and trust Christ as their savior, they are justified by faith, and have peace with God. Paul wrote, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
3. The Messengers of Peace
Everyone who belongs to God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ can enjoy the peace that only God gives. During turmoil and crisis, children of God can have, “the peace of God which passes all understanding” and it will “keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). This “peace of God” is to “rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15); it is to comfort and control believers during difficult times.
The God of peace longs for those who belong to Him to be messengers of peace to the world in conflict around them. Christians are to be peacemakers. Paul wrote, “God has called us to peace” (1 Corinthians 7:15). In fact, God calls believers to bring peace and reconciliation to others. They have been given “the ministry of reconciliation” and “the word of reconciliation,” and as His ambassadors are to urge people, “be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:19-20). The message of the saving Gospel can bring sinners into that place of peace and reconciliation with God through Christ.
So, what does a peacemaker look like? Peacemakers have three characteristics:
One: They are people who have made peace with God themselves. Faith in Christ brings peace with God. Peace with God is that calm assurance that, through believing in Jesus, you belong to God, and things are well between you and your Maker.
Two: Peacemakers are people who lead others to make peace with God. All Christians are just sinners saved by grace (Eph. 2:8-9). True believers are not smug, self-righteous or proud. They want to see others enjoy peace with God. They communicate “peace by Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:36).
Three: Peacemakers are people who lead people to make peace with others. A peacemaker is a bridge-builder between people who are at odds. A bridge requires access and support on two sides. Peacemakers find common ground on which to build communication and coalition.
Peace is a precious treasure. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. When you receive Him, you have all you need to bring peace to others. Jesus promised: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called Sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).