We have finally reached a section in Ephesians 2 where Paul deals with Christ’s role as the great peacemaker among men. We see him fulfilling the prophecy in Isaiah 9:
. . . He will be named:
Sar Shalom [Prince of Peace]” (Isaiah 9:6)
This title belongs strictly to Jesus. Throughout the history of mankind, there have been conflicts, hatred, wars, and fighting. We simply can’t live peaceful lives. The answer, of course, as expressed by Paul in Romans 3, is that “They have not learned to live in peace” (Romans 3:17). Men don’t understand what brings conflict and, therefore, what brings peace. We can see this in the individual level, within families, in marriages, in churches, in companies, in states, and among the nations of the world. It is always the same problem — men do not know the way of peace.
Paul provides the way of peace. To illustrate this, he uses the fact that Jesus Christ bridged the widest chasm which has ever existed between men — the gulf between Hebrews and Gentiles. If you don’t think that conflict can claim title to being an immense gulf to bridge, I suggest you consider why it has been so difficult to settle the Arab-Israeli problem in the Middle East. The greatest minds of our day have tried to resolve that conflict, and no one has gotten anywhere near a settlement. That is because this dispute is tough to bridge. However, Paul describes how Christ does it. And this is an excellent picture for us of how peace can be brought in any area of conflict or hostility, whether we are talking about battles between individuals or groups or nations. Paul says,
Through Christ Yeshua you, who were once far away, have been brought near by the blood of Christ. He is our peace. In His body He has made Jewish and non-Jewish people one by breaking down the wall of hostility that kept them apart. He brought an end to the commandments and demands found in Moses’ Teachings so that he could take Jewish and non-Jewish people and create one new humanity in himself. So he made peace. He also brought them back to God in one body by his cross, on which he killed the hostility. He came with the Good News of peace for you who were far away and for those who were near. So Jewish and non-Jewish people can go to the Father in one Spirit. (Ephesians 2:13-18)
Wow! If that is all it took, why wasn’t it figured out a long time ago? lol. I am sorry, but Paul mentions the word peace three times: “He is our peace,” speaking of Christ, and He has made peace, and, “He came with the Good News of peace to you who were far away and for those who were near.” Those three uses of the word peace, give us Paul’s outline of how Christ makes peace, the way he goes about it. First, He is our peace — that is the origin of peace. Then there is the process of peace, how it is actually found — He came and made peace. Finally, there are the means of laying hold or possessing that peace — He preached peace!
These three explanations are not mere doctrine or theology. If you have a conflict with someone — whether it is in your home, at your work, in your neighborhood, in the church, or in the world, this is the way of peace. This is the secret of peace. This is the key to peace. First, the origin of peace: “Jesus is our peace, who has made us both one.” Paul starts with a definition of what true peace really is. Real peace is unity, oneness. It is not merely the end of hostility, the absence of conflict; it means being one. This is paramount to know. Otherwise, when you talk about peace, you are only being superficial. Is it peace when you get two armies to lay down their weapons and stop fighting each other? Well, that is what we call it. And it is certainly to be preferred over armed conflict. But it is not really peace — not according to God’s definition.
Is it peace when a husband and wife agree not to get a divorce but to stay together, maybe for the sake of their kids, but that home continues to be cold and divided, with no harmony or joy? Well, that may be how we define peace, but it isn’t according to God’s.
Is it peace when two friends who haven’t spoken to each other for years finally decide to agree to disagree, to speak civilly to each other, but still can’t stand to be in each other’s company? Is that peace? Well, not according to God’s definition.
When a church maintains its rituals and programs and continues to be filled with division and strife and coldness and resentment, is that a peaceful church? Of course not. Not according to this definition. You see, peace is unity, harmony. It is sharing the mutual enjoyment. It is being one. Anything else is superficial and temporary and highly questionable. You know I am right, don’t you? You have made peace on superficial terms, and have only found it externally.
If you merely agree to stop fighting, it is not peace. Sooner or later, something will happen, or someone will say something, and all of the old animosity will surge to the surface again. It is only temporary, and never very satisfying. This is why what we call peace among nations never lasts — it isn’t real peace. It isn’t unity at all. It is merely being fed up with the fighting and agreeing to stop it for awhile until we can all recuperate and rearm. Then it breaks out all over again because nothing was ever settled. God isn’t interested in that.
But Paul is explaining the secret of peace. The secret of unity is a Person: “He is our peace.” And when Christ Jesus makes peace — between individuals or between nations — that peace will satisfy everyone; it will be permanent, and a genuine peace. It will be a real peace that will last and last. And it will be an entirely satisfying experience.
At one time Chile and Argentina were about to go to war. But instead, they entered into a pact, a covenant of peace. To commemorate that covenant, they erected a huge statue called The Christ of the Andes. At the bottom of that statue are these words inscribed:
“Sooner shall these mountains crumble to dust, then Chile and Argentina shall break the peace they have sworn at the feet of the Redeemer.”
That’s great! That is what we need to do with the Church. Jesus is willing to expose His heart to us, so we need to expose our hearts with our brothers and sisters and make our own pact at the feet of the Redeemer.
What Paul is saying is that to live at peace, you must have peace. The problem with most of us is that we want to start by clearing up only the results of conflict. God never starts there; he starts with the person. He says peace is a Person, and for you to live at peace with someone else, you must be at peace with the Person of Christ. If you have His peace, then you can start solving the conflicts around you. But you never can do it on any other terms. So the place to start, the origin of peace, is to settle any problems between you and Jesus Christ. That is always the place to start.
Many people contact me with various problems involving conflict. Usually, they are upset, troubled, discouraged, angry. They go to great length to describe all the terrible things the other person had done, and all the reasons why they are justified in being so angry, and feeling so mistreated. I listen to it all and then say, “Yep, you have a problem. But that isn’t your only problem. You actually have two problems. And the one you haven’t mentioned at all is the one you must start with.” They don’t want to hear it, but I have to explain that their problem is that they don’t have any peace themselves. They are not at peace. They are upset, angry, emotionally distraught. And everything they do and think is colored by their anger and blame. They can’t see anything straight; they don’t see things in balance, they have distorted perspectives, and everything is out of focus. It is impossible to resolve their problem until they acquire peace.
But this is the promise of God to Christians: He is our peace. Once they change their attitude, once they settle their heart, once the matter is placed into the hands of the Lord and they see that He is actively involved, a solution will be presented. And, their own heart will be at peace. There is profound psychological insight in the fact that Paul begins with the declaration that Christ is our peace. He alone can accomplish it — making us one.
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