“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile everything to himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
We have been talking about peace for four days now. Along the way, we’ve been laying some important foundation stones for understanding it. Biblical peace is something that transcends circumstances, it cannot be obtained directly, but comes as the result of pursuing the life of Christ, and it really is for everybody. This morning, we’re going to go back a bit and fill in some gaps. Here’s the element that makes everything else we’ve talked about make more sense.
On Monday, I poked some fun at the standard definition of peace as merely the absence of conflict. I still think that, but this morning let me acknowledge that definition isn’t quite so unhelpful as it seems. The mention of conflict there reveals something about peace we haven’t yet talked about and is actually a pretty important part of it. Peace is fundamentally relational.
Here’s what I mean: For us to experience a sense of wholeness and completeness in our lives, we have to have all of our relationships in good, working order. There is a temptation to think that peace is something we can have all by ourselves. If we can sever all ties and connections to other people, cut ourselves off from all our wants, we can experience peace. The trouble is, that won’t lead us to peace, it will lead us to loneliness.
God designed us as relational creatures. This is a fundamental part of being made in His image for He is a relational God. This idea lies at the heart of what we talked about on Tuesday. Peace is the by product of pursuing the life of Christ. Well, the life of Christ is a fundamentally relational thing. When we are pursuing love for one another and justice for the disadvantaged and compassion for the hurting and gentleness for the weak and so on and so forth, those are all intensely and inherently relational things. So then, put it all together: Peace is chiefly a relational aspect of our lives.
The kind of peace commended to us throughout the Scriptures is all about having right relationships with the people around us. But we can’t have a right relationship with the people around us without another relationship being right first: our relationship with God. This is why peace is so often and easily misidentified as being simply the absence of conflict. When our relationships are right, we don’t have any conflict.
There’s a problem here, though. When it comes to our relationship with God, its being broken is the primary reason we don’t have peace in our lives. When it is broken, we can’t have peace with anyone; not a real peace anyway. That brokenness trickles down and breaks everything else that comes after it…which is everything else.
Well then, we just need to fix our relationship with God and we can have peace. Simple, right? Wrong. That’s exactly the problem. Fixing our relationship with God is not something we can do. Our relationship with God is broken because of sin. The only way to restore that relationship is to deal with the sin. But the only way to deal with the sin is for the debt we owe Him because of it to be paid. Of course, as the apostle Paul told us in Romans, the wages of sin is death. The thing we owe God because of our rebellion from Him is our lives. If we give that, we don’t have them anymore. If we don’t have our lives anymore, then what are we left with? Death. It’s hard to have a relationship with someone when we’re dead.
Friends, this is all Gospel 101. In other words, peace lies right at the heart of the Gospel. When we embrace the good news, peace comes with it. So, how do we do it? Paul tells us here in the opening of his letter to the Colossians. The short answer is this: We don’t do it. In fact, we don’t have any part of it. God already did everything. And what did He do? Christmas, remember?
When that baby was born in a crowded, smelly stable, all the fullness of God dwelt in Him. The full power and glory of the God who created the world and everything in it was found in that tiny bundle of wonder. As Andrew Peterson puts it in his terrific song, Labor of Love, “for the baby in her womb, He was the maker of the moon.” And he came with a mission: to bring peace between us and Him. That peace would come, though, only when a perfect life was given for the lives that had been taken. But once it was given, the path to peace would be open for everyone and everything. Whether in heaven or on earth, all things would be reconciled in Him. How? By the shedding of His blood on the cross. He was born for you and for me; for all the world.
If you want peace–real and lasting peace that cannot be taken away by anyone or anything–that peace only comes one way: through Christ. You can have peace with God through the child whose birth we celebrate. Peace in Christ. Yours for the having if you are willing to receive it. That’s where it starts. Everything else comes from there.