Do we know what peace is? In history, peace has often only come after war, after one ruling power manages to conquer others and declare themselves the ruler. Is that peace; or is peace something completely different? Is war what gets in the way of peace or is war a way of creating peace?
What some call peace...
The famous ‘PaxRomana’ (Roman Peace) is generally described as a time of great peace and development for the Roman Empire which started with Caesar Augustus but the way the ‘peace’ was maintained was by Augustus stealthily making himself into a dictator and brutally punishing those who did not agree with him.
Yes, there was stability and development in the empire but was it peace?Peace in this sense was a by-product of Augustus wanting to be in charge, he crushed all his enemies and ruled through fear and an iron fist.
His main aim was not bringing peace and prosperity to his people but keeping himself in power and he knew that the best way to do that was a combination of creating a stable society and instilling fear into the hearts of all those who opposed him.
What God calls peace...
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
This verse from Isaiah chapter 9, verse 6 calls Jesus the Prince of Peace yet he was completely the opposite of Augustus when it came to how he achieved peace.
Jesus came into the Roman Empire (that maintained the ‘peace’ by murdering anyone who disagreed with them or could possibly have thought to be a threat) yet Jesus did not come to conquer and crush so that he would be made the supreme ruler and have “peace” as a by-product.
He was the real king but he did not use force to be put in charge. Instead, he gave his life to defeat death and sin so that we could have true and lasting peace with God.
Jesus opened up the way for us to have eternal life with him in heaven where there will be no war, or suffering, no selfishness, or violence; because of Jesus – the prince of peace – dying in our place we can look forward to the time where there will be perfect peace – achieved not through war or self-interest but through the selfless sacrifice of the Prince of Peace on the cross.
As it says in Isaiah chapter 53, verse 5, “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”
Peace on Earth
There will never be perfect peace on Earth until Jesus returns to fully and finally make all things new but the good news is that he empowers us through the Holy Spirit to promote peace and selflessly look out for the good of others.
Seeking peace does not mean ignoring injustice and turning away from those who are being mistreated but it does inform the way we do things.
Whilst seeking justice we should always do so in a way that is loving and other-focused. As Paul says in Romans chapter 12, verse 18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
Not only is peace what is good and right but it also brings joy to those who pursue it as it says in Proverbs chapter 12, verse 20, “Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy.”
True peace is completely other-centered and focused not on power or domination but the good of others. As we look around the world and feel burdened by the brokenness of what is going on we can take heart that Jesus – our prince of peace – provides a greater peace! One that is sure and certain and that will never fail!
As God says in Isaiah chapter 54, verse 10, “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”
Jessica McPherson lives with her best friend and husband, Eoin and their family of rescue animals in Christchurch. She loves reading, writing, photography and scrap-booking but most of all sharing God’s love and truth with a hurting world. Jessica is particularly passionate about encouraging children and building them up in gospel truth.