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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, May 02 2024

How can we find the pathway to peace?

At the time of Jesus Christ’s birth the chorus of heavenly messengers proclaimed "Peace" and "goodwill toward men" (Luke 2:14), but we only have to listen to world news to know this definitely has not come to pass.

Isaiah's prophecy in Isaiah 9:6-7 highlighted the coming of a Messiah, which would benefit all mankind. Genuine, lasting peace was promised, as reflected in the prophet's encouraging words: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.”

Jesus Christ taught and practiced the way of peace as no one before or after Him has done. Yet Christ's first coming did not leave the world a legacy of perpetual peace."The way of peace they have not known" is Isaiah's divinely inspired assessment of man's typical behavior (Isaiah 59:8), The world rejected Jesus Christ, disregarding the way to reconciliation, respect and cooperation He taught and exemplified. However God will keep His promise by sending the Prince of Peace to earth a second time (Hebrews 9:28) to at last inaugurate the long-hoped-for utopia. Beginning at that time Christ will teach the way of peace to everyone—assisted by converted individuals already trained as messengers of peace (Revelation 5:10).

Although the world at large will have to wait a little longer to experience this promised peace, Christians are called to embrace peace now, as the emissaries of God's way of life. Jesus Christ promises: "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; [but] not as the world gives…." (John 14:27). Yet living a life of peace isn't easy. It requires skill and initiative and has to be pursued in humility. The world tends to elevate its military heroes, as evidenced by such memorials as the Duke of Wellington's massive monument in St. Paul's Cathedral in London with its impressive list of his victorious battles, and the victory column of the Duke of Marlborough at Blenheim Palace. Meanwhile greater conquests than the spoils of war—the accomplishments of peace—are too lightly esteemed.

King Solomon reflected on this theme at a personal level: "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city" (Proverbs 16:32). He understood God views gaining victory over our own base instincts as a worthy accomplishment. Notice God's words to Solomon, who on becoming king requested wisdom and understanding to better serve his people: "Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor…riches…nor …the life of your enemies, but have asked for…understanding to discern justice, behold…I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you" (1 Kings 3:11-12). God heard and acted on Solomon's request. He would be blessed with a reign of peace in an otherwise bloodstained, violent age.

In the eyes of our Creator, esteem and honor go to those who seek the well-being of others. A genuine, heartfelt desire to work out matters peaceably among nations or in our personal relationships all too often goes begging. Those who put into practice Christ's teachings about peace will focus their minds on loving others rather than taking advantage of them. They will place the well-being of other people equal to, or even higher than, their own wants and needs. We may not be able to bring our influence to bear on the world at large in any compelling way, but we can successfully heal a soured relationship.

Scriptures make it clear that Christ's first coming—beyond His sacrifice for the sins of the world—served to invite a group of people from many nations to individually embrace a life of peace now (John 14:27; 16:33). It is a state of mind—God's mind in us. Peace comes about by living in harmony with the Word of God, the Bible. As Psalm 119:165 tells us, "Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble."

Christ reached out to make peace with the Samaritan woman, as recorded in John 4. Relations between the Jews and Samaritans had deteriorated to the point that they were no longer on speaking terms. But Christ would have none of it. As a result of His desire to heal broken bonds, He made it clear that salvation would be made available to Samaritans as well as Jews. His stirring parable of the good Samaritan raised the anonymous Samaritan—viewed as among the most despised social class by Christ's audience—to a position of honor and respect. Jesus' message is that all men and women are of equal potential in God's sight.

Jesus Christ came to earth and died so that all might ultimately experience the peace and salvation that can come only through God.The Apostle Paul wrote, "And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near" (Ephesians 2:17). Making peace is an art, and we have Christ's example and His teaching to guide us. We must build strong bonds and heal relationships where they have been bruised and broken. The prophecy of Luke 2:14 will find ultimate fulfillment in the age to come, yet the Prince of Peace will work in us today if we embrace Him and His teachings.