Why is it up to me to let peace rule?
Surely that’s up to the circumstances? I mean, I want to be happy, but the Bible doesn’t command us to be happy. Paul says “Be thankful” which implies that thankfulness, like peace is a duty laid upon us. Which means that it’s a possible accomplishment….something within reach. And it also means that there’s something badly wrong if peace doesn’t rule, doesn’t it?….
And remember that Paul was writing from prison! And loads of problems, heresies, backbiting, persecution… and yet he demands peace! And then he adds “To which you are called in one body.” This suggests that the unity of the church and the peace of the individual are tied together.
Think about that: unity in my church family, peace in my heart.
What does he mean by Unity? An army is unified, moving to one command. The body is unified, all its bits working under one brain. All different, but moved under the same direction.
But you have to have unity to have peace, don’t you?. You don’t talk about the peace of your finger or ankle. The whole body has to be in unity to be at peace. The Trinity is a picture of that harmonious unity. Jesus said “I and my Father are one.”
True: but they’re different, aren’t they? In the body, my kneecap is different to my face. It is not the unity of UNIFORMITY. A flock of sheep of five hundred is not a unity, just a mass of units.
So what is the unity of peace? If I lost my arm then the whole body is deformed. If I lost my big toe then I also lose my balance. Paul’s idea of unity is of different things working together.
So when you think of the unity of the church, does it really mean uniformity? Everybody same, same list of doctrines etc? Some would go that way. Does the sheer number of denominations mean that there are a million ways to worship God or that we’re just so sinful we just can’t get on together?
Well, both. I guess!
You have to conclude that every denomination has its little bit of the truth. Yes? You didn’t think yours was perfect, did you?
In which case we need the whole rainbow spectrum to produce the one vital thing. All the various shades are beautiful, distinctive, precious, but it is the whole which is the Body of Christ, Like a magnificent harmony. Peace is not between things exactly alike. We don’t need peace between two neighbours who agree on everything!Paul saw all these people with differing views and he said: “Far from that variety destroying unity, it is the only ground of unity.” Blend those doctrines? Keep only the smallest of walls between us. And let there be the peace of love, and then you will have unity. There are no denominations in heaven! Because there is only one animating principle in the whole church: only one cohesive factor, and that is Christ. One faith, one Lord, one Spirit.
You might say: your theory is fine but its impracticable. And it is. It is impossible top down. You can’t legislate, or make a rule. Ecumenicalism is doomed to failure…unless. You start with the heart. Is your heart right with my heart? Then give me your hand. The Spirit of God creates links. The Spirit creates church because church means SUMMONED ONES, and it is he who does the summoning. It’s the picture of Acts 2 where all the different nations heard in their own language.
And what is the individual peace that comes from that unity? It’s the peace of CHRIST who is the centre of the wheel, and the nearer we get to that centre, the nearer we get to each other. This is Christ’s legacy: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives I give unto you:” It goes to the very heart of the problem.
Christianity does not promise happiness, but it does promise peace. “In the world you SHALL have tribulation but take heart. I have overcome the world.”
It is the peace of ASSURANCE Peace comes from fitting in to the whole purposes of the universe.It is the peace of God our creator. Since we are justified, we have peace with God. Warfare is over. Peace has begun. There is no rearguard action to fight. It is finished.
But it’s not the peace of inertia. Mossy covered rocks beneath a lake is stagnation. The prophet said we cry “Peace, peace,” but there is no peace. Don’t cover up by pretending.
It is the peace of POWER. What do I mean? We speak of a peaceful sea, knowing that it could change. That there is a whole load of stuff just below the surface that could break out. The word “rule” is interesting. In modern Greek it means the “governor on an engine to prevent overload. Or like the weight on a pressure cooker, that governs the power. Let peace rule –govern- all that churning stuff beneath.
It’s the word of the powerful Christ saying to the threatening storm inside, “Peace, be still!” and there is “a great calm.”
And that’s the last word here: it’s the peace of GRATITUDE! Knowing God, understanding that his powerful Spirit is at work in you shaping and changing your will, and you coming to the position of submission Let the peace of God rule you, and be thankful. The storm is over. You are safe in harbour. The strife is o’er, the battle won.
It is finished.