Peace on Earth, We Need It Now


Editor's Note: The following is a sermon presented at the Vineyard Church of DuPage this past December.

Peace on Earth. Words that we flash across the world at Christmas time, like some Miss America pageant winner… “And in my reign as Mr Perfect of the DuPage County Courthouse I plan to bring peace to all the earth and see white people and black people hug at least twice a day.”

Have you ever wondered just what we mean when we say Peace on Earth. Here is one take from my parent’s generation (You know I had to go there):

The Words of John Lennon:

Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

Peace on Earth. John wanted it now. And not to be some Generation X buzzkill who looks back and for the life of him cannot see what the big deal was, but these lyrics which are about peace make me less peaceful. Anytime I hear someone mooning over these lyrics, I want to plug my ears and run screaming from the room. I find it amazing that these words have been so loved by a bunch of rich white people who have never known a hardship other than having to wait in line for their new iphone. So I just want to say, “yeah John I hear you but I just don’t feel it. To me it seems all kindy whiny and pretentious.”

Now what about someone from my own generation,. Someone whom feels the need:

Bono— Peace on Earth

They’re reading names out Over the radio
All the folks the rest of us, Won’t get to know

Sean and Julia
Gareth Anne and Peter
Their lives are bigger than Any big idea

Jesus can you take the time To throw a drowning man a line
Peace on earth

To tell the ones who hear no sound, Whose sons are living in the ground
Peace on earth

Jesus in the song you wrote, The words are sticking in my throat
Peace on earth

Hear it every Christmas time But hope and history wont rhyme
So what’s it worth

This peace on earth

I may not have lived in Ireland and may not have seen the horrors of that have plagued Northern Ireland, but in this time of unending war I can feel the heartache and the sorrow of Bono’s lyrics. I think that Bono is right on the money to point us to the Christmas time and remaind us of the words of Christ. Here is what the Apostle Paul had to say about the life and death of Christ and what it means to us, the church, and the world:

One in Christ

11 So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth,b called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision”–a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands– 12remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16and might reconcile both groups to God in one bodyc through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.d 17So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.e 21In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22in whom you also are built together spirituallyf into a dwelling place for God.

Verse 12 is interesting and fascinating. It says we were once without hope, and in a phrase that rings forth off the page: without God in the world.

John Wesley Quote: JW said of this phrase: “wholly ignorant of the True God and so in effect atheists. Such in truth are, more or less, all men, in all ages, till they know God by the teaching of His Holy Spirit.”

That is the place of us before B.C., and it is the place that someone such as John Lennon and many of his fans find themselves: without hope and without God in the world. And even though they may think themselves liberated and joyous (as compared to Christians, and maybe sometimes they are). In reality they are doomed to failure. They are doomed to spend their entire life pining after sometime that can only be fleeting and momentary. They spend all their life dreaming and hoping for something which they will never be able to possess. It is heartbreaking and mindboggling.

Yet for Bono and for us as Christians, the Key section to this whole passage is found in verses 14-18. Let’s read it again:

14For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16and might reconcile both groups to God in one bodyc through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.d 17So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father.

If one is to take this passage seriously, I would argue that he or she would have to believe and to state that the Church has been called by God into existence to act as a bastion of peace in our world. We have been given the task to be agents of reconciliation in the world. Introducing one and all to the One who is our Peace.

Twister Movie Scene

Unfortunately for the world we as a church have failed miserably at this task. We cannot get along with ourselves, much less the rest of the world. And so I think it would be fitting for us to take a moment this morning to try and dig into God’s Word and understand just what this passage means that we may be true followers of His will and true practitioners of Peace on Earth.

II. Another Brick in the Wall. .

The problem within the past, and within our past is that we had been cut off, separated in many varied ways. The passage here indicates two in particular:

1. Sin (revealed and by the law) Separated the Jew from God.

2. Sin (revealed and by the law) Separated the Jew from the Gentile.

Pink Floyd Song—Another Brick in the wall……

Text Book Stuff

Yet Christ came to break down all the walls that sin had set up.

III. The Ministry of Reconciliation

We have Good news as preached by the writer of Hebrews (9:24- 28):

“24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; 26 for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”

Dual Meaning of Reconcile: 1) God to man

2) man to God

A word is used here that is only used in one other place:

Col. 1:19-22

19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. 21 And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him”

Reconcile: “not only a return to favor, but to so lay aside enmity that amity follows.”

Connection to Matthew 5 and the man who is offering a sacrifice but remembers an offense.

IV. Be At Peace

And so within this ministry of reconciliation, we see that Christ is named as Peace. Not a peacemaker, or doer, but is named as Peace itself. And it is only within relationship to that baby born in a manger that we can find Peace as it really is. And what is that, you might ask. The Bible (specifically the OT) uses the Hebrew word Salom, which means:

“To be complete…. To be sound.”

Illustration of the Titanic

The Jewish people meant it as a blessing. In both their greetings and their farewells, they would say: “May your life be filled with health, prosperity, and victory.”

So what is completeness, what is meant by the scriptures when they urge us to live well and at peace:

  1. Salom has meaning of Health.
  2. Salom has meaning of Being in Right Relationships. Numbers 25:12-13, Isa. 54:10; Ezek 34:25-6.
  3. Salom has meaning of Prosperity, Success, Fulfillment. Lev. 26:3-9.
  4. Salom has meaning of Victory over one’s enemies or the absence of war.

Some might say, but that is OT stuff, and the NT is about spiritual stuff. We are spiritually healthy, blah, blah, blah. To that sentiment I can only quote Lee Corso and say, “Not so fast my friend.” Jesus, himself, tells us that he came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. That is to show us what it really means to fulfill the law. So we need to understand that all these things mentioned above are still things that He intends us for us to have today. I say this as someone who has struggled with health issues over the last month, as someone who is unmarried (why, partly because I have messed up every relationship to this point), someone who has borrowed more than his fair share from others to pay his bills; as someone who has failed at more than one thing in the past year, if not month or day. If we are not living lives of health, righteousness, fulfillment, and victory, we need to ask ourselves some serious questions.

Cliché—Definition of Failure – “doing the same thing the same way and expecting different results.”

So how to get peace:

1) Peace is Received (from God primarily but also from others). Isa 48:18

2) Peace is Earned. It is a fruit of the spirit. Isa. 32:17-18.

Good Samaritan Story

Need to keep Psalm 85:10 and Romans 2:9-10 in mind here. Peace and Righteousness are enjoined, and both of these are only available as we move into the things of God and receive his grace.

Book Club Question

Quote: “one of the key issues among the false prophets was the doctrine of ‘peace’ and in the announcement they hoped to create peace for their constituency. The True prophets argued that peace could never be achieved apart from righteousness and justice.”

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