Real peace is a rare commodity today. We are told to seek peace when all “they” mean is let there be an absence of conflict. We are told to tolerate others as if that will lead to peaceful relationships. The famous bumper sticker reminds us to “Coexist” which comes closer to the idea of real peace but overlooks the truth that some people’s ideas of coexistence is that you subjugate yourself to them.
Real peace only exists when we are in a harmonious relationship with God. I know, that sounds very elitist, as if my religious beliefs are better than all those with whom we are supposed to coexist. Let’s be honest, I believe that. Is it arrogance? No. If I didn’t believe that faith in Christ was the only way to have peace with God, I wouldn’t have faith in Christ. That being said, I’m willing to let others have that same freedom of belief that their belief is the the best way to live. I am willing to share my faith with others, but not impose it on others.
The Psalmist reminded us to pray for peace: the peace of Jerusalem. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.’” (Psalm 122:6-7) In those days, Jerusalem was the center of worship of the almighty God. This is where the Jewish people came to pray, offer sacrifices, and worship. Jerusalem was often troubled on two fronts: enemies from outside and enemies from within. The problems caused by outside invaders were obvious. How often we forget the troubles in Jerusalem from those in power who would lead Israel astray. They would seek to allow or even enforce worship practices that didn’t honor God. The enemies within did more damage to Jerusalem than the enemies at the gate.
The same is true in the Christian faith. My people deal with enemies from outside the faith and from those supposedly inside the faith. Brothers and sisters in Christ in some areas of the world are undergoing severe persecution – to the point of death. We are called to pray for them and assist them in any way we can. At the same time, we have those who would lead my brothers and sisters in Christ away from the true faith by diluting it with feel good or legalistic doctrines. Legalism would call people to do something to put God in the position of forgiving us. There is nothing we can do that can make God forgive us: He does so out of His grace. Feel good doctrines would take out the need for a lifestyle of repentance – a lifestyle that recognizes what God has already done and seeks to live for Him under His power. We are under attack from both enemies of true faith. Pray not only for the peace of Jerusalem, but for the peace of the Church.
Lord God, we want to be in a right relationship with You. We want true peace. Give us strength and guidance so that we may follow You and stay in a harmonious relationship with You.