First the Kingdom part 28, Peace On Earth!
“for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
In our last message we were reminded that our great Lord and Savior has wonderful plans for His creation. Even now He is bringing forth the fruit of his good will in the earth as His Kingdom reign. We are encouraged in the fact that every wrong will some day be made right, but also because those of us who know and love Him can bear witness to His righteousness now — as we live and walk in the Holy Spirit!
The Kingdom of God is also a realm of peace. The peace of God is a marvelous thing to experience. Peter the apostle of Christ wrote of a peace that surpasses all understanding. This peace is real, powerful and transformative. I cannot overemphasize this or exagerate its value! In the Bible, in history and even in this present and fearful time, many have overcome and even joyfully endured great hardship because of this deep abiding peace from God.
Peace can be defined in many ways. Often we relate peace with quietness and tranquility. Sometimes we find peace in accepting situations that are beyond our control. Two countries might find an end of the war that has gone on between them, and define that as peace. All these situations describe certain kinds of peace, but the Kingdom of God deals with the real essence of peace itself. When we enter the Kingdom of Heaven we come into contact with the source of peace Himself. The Lord Jesus Christ is indeed the Prince of Peace!
When we look at Jesus in the Gospels we do not see a mellow, complacent, easy-going, live-and-let-live guy who was okay with injustice and evil. Neither do we see a man willing to compromise in order to get along with everyone. In fact He had more than enough enemies against Him who were willing to orchestrate His death!
Once He said that He did not come to bring peace, but division! He knew the peace He would eventually bring would come with great cost. The cost of His very life!
He came to attack the very source of strife. Since Adam in the beginning fell out of harmony with his Creator, all of his children were born with this emptiness, which only God could fill. This condition of alienation affected not only our relationship with Him, but also our relationships with one another and the creation we were destined to care for and protect. In attempting fill the void we have grasped for things and fought wars over them to this day.
Take for instance the divorce rate in America. Why is it so high even among Christians? Could it be because we still crave the things which can never satisfy, and then blame the other person for our emptiness?
Has the Christian world too long made it about getting what we want from God and not about finding our total satisfaction and fullfillment in His Kingdom, His will in this earth?
For the rest of my life I will continue to urge people to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Yes we have heard wonderful preaching and teaching about how Christ loves you and me as individuals. “He sought me and He bought me with His redeeming love!” He IS my personal Savior! I would not take away from His work on the Cross for us all, and the victory He has won for me personally.
Yet there might just be a missing note in all of this. Jesus brought the Good News that the time for the Kingdom of God had come. We have traded this message for one that is all about a mansion in the sky for me when I die. That alone is supposed to sustain us and keep us on the narrow way. So we invest heavily in ways to motivate people to come to church and hear about the promises of a better existence somewhere in heaven.
This creates the kind of ground that Jesus described where the seed is not able to take root. The Seed, that is the Gospel of the Kingdom cannot flourish. When difficult times come, far too many will return to the lives they lived before.
At the birth of Jesus it was announced by the heavenly host that glory was given to God on high and peace was coming to earth with good will among men.
In the Western world every year we hear about this story in December, and yet we miss the meaning, the hope that He brings to our hearts in this message. Certainly there is a personal peace in the heart of everyone who surrenders his or her life to Jesus. That peace will abide and it will intice others to learn about Him. That is the bigger picture. This peace, this Kingdom of God peace must increase in the earth, take root and grow much larger like the small mustard seed of the parables Jesus taught.
Remember, the Kingdom is righteousness and peace. The word peace in the bible is based upon the Hebrew word, Shalom. Shalom describes the blessing of peace, but also a state of health, prosperity and well-being. When I was young I heard that Shalom meant both “hello” and “goodbye” to the Jews. I did not realise that it really was to pronounce a blessing upon a friend upon meeting or when parting. Shalom indicates safety and preservation from harm. It is more than, “have a good day!” It is more like “have a good life!”
In today’s world we strive for security, but can never be sure about it. The Kingdom of God is a place of security because righteousness and peace prevail. We as God’s children need to focus more on securing righteousness and peace for others in this earth. This is my Father’s world! I want to see Him glorified in it! While I am at peace with God, I am not at peace with evil in this world! Please, pray with me as God instructs us through Christ to pray that His Kingdom comes and His will is done ON THIS EARTH, as it is in heaven!
You might ask, “what can I do to change anything?” To that I answer, seek God for yourself, for His direction. You might be surprised at the opportunities He has already provided to you!