Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace...Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Eph 4:3, 29-32
It is an unfortunate truth that in American culture peace is more often associated with hippie or anti-war gatherings than it is with Christian gatherings. And yet, the Christian who searches the New Testament Scriptures for the word 'peace' will be astounded at not only how often peace is mentioned in the New Testament but also how vital it is to the Christian faith. For example, every one of Paul's letters in the New Testament begins with a greeting that bestows grace and peace on his readers (see Rom. 1:7, I Cor. 1:3, II Cor. 1:2, Gal. 1:3, Eph. 1:2, Phil. 1:2, Col. 1:2, I Thess. 1:1, II Thess. 1:2, I Tim. 1:2, II Tim. 1:2, Titus 1:4, Philemon 1:3). Grace is discussed often in our churches and in our homes, but what about peace? Other New Testament writers also picked up this emphasis on peace in their greetings (see I Pet. 1:2, II Pet. 1:2, II John 1:3, Jude 2, Rev. 1:4). In fact, all in all two-thirds of the 27 New Testament books begin by bestowing peace on their readers.
While this very well may have been a common greeting of their day, it is clear that it was far from a formality for the biblical writers. They saw peace as such an essential mark of the Christian community and lifestyle that they could refer to God Himself as the "God of peace" (Rom. 15:33, 16:20, II Cor. 13:11, Phil. 4:9, I Thess. 5:23, Heb. 13:20). Indeed, peace was at the very heart of their understanding of the gospel (Acts 10:36). Through Jesus' death on the cross the just wrath of God against our sin was extinguished. By His sacrifice we now enjoy peace with God (Romans 5:1). This peace with God should permeate our relationships with others. In the New Testament it had profound implications for the relationship between Jews and other ethnicities (Ephesians 2:14). But as today's passage of Scripture points out, this great peace that we enjoy corporately should filter its way down into our individual lives as well. As Christians we are called to be at peace with one another.
Is your life marked by peace? Are your relationships? If Jesus' death on the cross was enough to cover over the many ways that you and I had offended God, then isn't it enough to cover over the offenses you have received at the hands of your family members in Christ? It most certainly is! Today, choose to restore peace. Forgive those who have wronged you. Sure they don't deserve it...that's what makes it forgiveness! You and I didn't deserve it either. And we have no right to withhold what we have been given so freely and liberally. Also, choose to maintain peace. "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
Jesus often spoke this refrain to people whom he had healed, "Your faith has made you whole, go in peace." My prayer is that today, your faith would drive you to forgive and that through that forgiveness, which is made possible only through Jesus, you might go in peace.
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