SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY (November 12, 2013)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” Galatians 5:22-26.
“SINCE WE LIVE BY THE SPIRIT, LET US KEEP IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT” Galatians 5:25 (NIV).
We have discussed two aspects of the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT as we find in our study passage. We have established that the Christian love is agape and the Christian joy flows from the fact that we have been saved by grace through faith in Christ. This joy we have because of our relationship with Christ should cause us to remain joyful even in difficult times because we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God. This joy can only be possible when we experience the peace of God in our hearts. In this edition we want to focus on PEACE as an aspect of the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT.
We should also not forget that the Christian cannot exhibit some aspect of the FRUIT and leave others out because by so doing, we will not be bearing THE FRUIT but rather PART OF THE FRUIT. IF WE BEAR ASPECTS OF THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT INSTEAD OF BEARING THE WHOLE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT WE MAY MISS THE MARK.
Peace is another common word in English language. Many people understand peace to be the absence of war and that is what the whole world is now seeking for. As a result we hear of peace-building and peace-keeping efforts almost every day. Yet we hear of conflicts and wars throughout the world on daily basis. This means that the world’s concept of peace as well as its efforts towards peace is wrong. The only peace the world needs is the Christian peace.
The word ‘shalom’ in Hebrew, which is translated peace in English, goes far beyond the understanding of peace in English. The ‘shalom’ of God encompasses both spiritual and physical prosperity. It is also about emotional and psychological peace. According to the Strong’s Concordance 7965, Shālōm שׁלום means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. It comes from the root verb shalom meaning to complete, perfect and full. The Greek word ‘Eirēnē εἰρήνη‘ has a similar meaning. The Greek meaning also stresses the concept of reconciliation, which is very important for our understanding of the word. I am not sure how far I can explain this important virtue of peace but I want to emphasize that PEACE IN THE CHRISTIAN CONTEXT MUST BE LOOKED AT AS A NATURE OF GOD. This is because it is also a TRINITARIAN concept. The Christian peace encompasses PEACE WITH GOD, PEACE IN GOD (INNER PEACE) AND PEACE WITH OTHERS.
Peace with God can be understood from the relationship between God and mankind at the time of creation. As we all know, God created mankind as his vicegerent and gave them authority over the rest of creation. Man (mankind) was like a friend to God because God loved him. Man did not lack anything he needed. This peaceful relationship between God and man continued until man disobeyed God by doing the opposite of what he had been warned not to do. This caused God, in his justice to drive man out of that beautiful Garden and secured the Garden with his “cherubim and flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24). Man lost the relationship he had with God when he sinned against God. Man was thus separated from God not only physically but also spiritually. MAN LOST GOD’S ‘SHALOM’ WHEN HE SINNED AGAINST GOD.
The most tragic historical event that ever happened to mankind was the loss of the peace with God. This affected every aspect of man. Man fell from the glory of God because of the sin (Romans 3:23). It was not possible for man to be reconciled with God until God himself took the initiative to bridge the gap between himself and man. This culminated in the giving of his only begotten son, Jesus Christ, to the world in order to save but not to condemned the world (John 3:16-17) even though the world deserved condemnation. The reason for which Jesus came was to restore the peace which existed between God and man and to save man from condemnation as a result of his rebelliousness.
Therefore, peace with God can only come through Jesus Christ. THAT IS WHY JESUS SAID: “I AM THE WAY, AND THE TRUE AND THE LIFE, NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER EXCEPT THROUGH ME” (John 14:6). The implication of this is that no man can be reconciled with God except through Jesus Christ. This means that having a relationship with Jesus Christ through faith is the only way to secure a peaceful relationship with God.
“I AM CONVINCED THAT THE MOST IMPORTANT TREASURE ANY ONE NEEDS TO SEEK AFTER ON DAILY BASIS IS THE RECONCILIATION WITH GOD. WHEN WE ARE AT PEACE WITH GOD, WE CAN ENJOY PEACE WITH OURSELVES AND PEACE WITH THE REST OF GOD’S CREATION.”
Mankind spends lots of hours seeking after money and many other needs on daily basis. They are all important but not the most important thing to look for. Our souls are safe and secure in Christ. Our souls shall perish without peace with God. That is why Jesus’ question in Mark 8:36 is very important for each person to think about each day. Jesus asked rhetorically: “AND WHAT DO YOU BENEFIT IF YOU GAIN THE WHOLE WORLD BUT LOSE YOUR SOUL?” It is useless. It is therefore important for us to seek peace with the Lord before he condemns us to eternal damnation.
How then can we have peace with God? It is only by accepting the invitation God has extended mankind through his son Jesus Christ. He is the only bridge over the gap between sinful man and the righteous God. If we don’t accept that invitation, we shall perpetually remain opposed to God. John helps us to understand this better when he told us that if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). This is for believers as well. We also sin on daily basis and keep rebelling against God through our sinful acts. We also need to be reconciled to God on daily basis. John again said: “If we claim that we do not sin we deceive ourselves” (1 John 1:8). Let us learn therefore to remain reconciled to God through our daily confession of our sins and our obedience to his word. This is the way to maintaining constant peaceful relationship with God.
I want to end by reminding all believers that peace with God includes intimacy, divine blessings and uninterrupted flow of divine love and favor. It encompasses everything God intended for us to have through our relationship with him. This is the peace that enables us to live in paradise on earth even in the midst of the chaos of this world. It enables us to live in the restored creation as we await the final restoration of all things. SO DO NOT MISPLACE YOUR PRIORITIES IN THIS WORLD. SEEK PEACE WITH GOD FIRST AND ALL OTHER THINGS SHALL BE ADDED UNTO YOU!
In the next edition, I shall focus on inner peace as well as peace with others. Until then, remain at peace with God! SHALOM!
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.