Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

peace on earth

12/23/03

 

Song: “ Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me

Let there be peace on earth as it was meant to be

With God as our father, we are all brothers….”

 

See Acts 17:23-28

 

Is peace on earth meant to be. Is that God’s plan?

Luke 2: 8-14. Good tidings of great joy to all people… Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men

 

Seemingly the first advent of Christ was proclaimed as the dawning of peace on earth. What happened to the promised peace? That is the mystery I ponder.

 

I suspect any of us who see the so called second advent of Christ as a past event have heard a question like this: If that’s so, why is there so much evil in the world yet? Perhaps a better question for those of the traditional persuasion is this: Why after the first advent of Christ is there so much evil in the world? Did Christ come to proclaim peace and announce the kingdom of God or not?

 

Basically I am familiar with two responses to this question as to how evil and unrest can exist so many years after Christ . One is that God speaks of things in the far distant future as if they are imminent because God’s sense of time is different from man’s. The second explanation is that somehow God changed his mind about the planned peace/kingdom because the first century Jews rejected Christ. Some may find these explanations acceptable, but I look for a different answer.

 

Let’s consider the song lyrics again. Does the promised peace on earth begin with me or does it begin with the other guy? Most anyone would admit that the only person I can drive to peace is me. I just don’t control what another does. Is peace meant to be?  Is it meant for now or do we wait for God to act again to bring about peace? The angelic pronouncement of peace had the sound of immediacy.

 

The peace announced in Luke 2 was earthly peace and apparently accrued to all people. Some would say that the peace proclaimed by the angels was  peace in other than the physical realm, peace between God and man. A settling of the sin question. This is largely so, in my opinion, but does not peace on earth imply also peace between men. Shouldn’t spiritual peace bring about physical peace?

 

Is it possible that the unrealized peace on earth has alluded mankind for these 2000 years since the angels spoke because the message of peace has gotten twisted all around. If Jesus came to proclaim peace for the select few, with the intent to return several millennia later to punish the “unchosen”, then peace can never be realized. Brother will rise up against brother just as Christ predicted of the first century Jews. The world today is filled with various religious groups all claiming a special mandate from God, a mandate which grants them special privilege before God, to the exclusion of all others. The byproduct of this feeling of “chosenness” is manifested similarly in all such groups. They resist, oppose, and vilify those they believe to not be chosen. They each strive for dominion over the “unchosen”. Such theology is hardly the path to peace.

 

I believe that the promised peace of the first century was both peace between God and man in relation to sin and peace between all men. Ephesions 2: 11-19 says specifically that the purpose of Christ was to tear down the wall separating Jew and Gentile. What was that wall? It was the partiality that God had shown to Israel in preference to the Gentiles. God had purposefully selected Israel as the vehicle to bring about Salvation for all mankind. That was the essence of the Abrahamic covenant, the promise to bless all the world through Abraham.

 

Why did God select Israel in the first place? Gal 3: To let them serve as an example to the world, not of how God rewards obedience and righteous living but rather to demonstrate the utter futility of trying to be righteous enough to gain salvation. The Jews were miserable failures under the Old Covenant. So what did the Gentiles learn from watching God interact with the Jews. He could learn about God’s patience, about his undying love for his chosen people; he could learn that God desired mercy and not sacrifice (Hosea 6:6).

 

What else could be learned from watching the Jews? How about the lesson that God’s purpose is never thwarted by man, not by what they do or what they don’t do. When God chooses you, you cannot “unchoose” yourself. The Jew was chosen because God chose him. The Jew was special because of God’s choice and not his own. “Chosenness” was all of God and none of man. The Jews were a chosen people as long as God’s purpose in them was unfulfilled. But then what? Then the wall was torn down and all men came to the promised peace.

 

Today, the orthodox message is one of choose God and he will choose you. God will not choose you, you must choose him. Is that the message of the Jewish example? Is that the message the brings peace on earth? Is that the message that reconciles man to God? Strangely enough, this sounds like a rehash of the Old Law, a law which demanded obedience of a people incapable of obedience. Peace on earth begins in recognizing the completed work of Christ for what it really is, the greatest story ever told, one never having entered in the imagination of man. A story so unbelievable that man has denied it for 2000 years. 

 

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