Peace. If there is one thing the earth aches and cries out for, it is peace.
Now, the dictionary would define peace as freedom from disturbance or tranquility. But that is not the thing our beings long for. We can get freedom from disturbance by hiding in our cars by ourselves for a moment when we go to the store. We can feel tranquility by sitting on a lake enjoying the beauty of nature. And still… it’s not enough. For us, or for the world.
What the world needs may feel far away, but you and I both know that the Peace we ache for came near. A better word for Him is Shalom… a layered Hebrew word that communicates the idea of every crack and gap and divide being filled with the presence and peace of the Creator. In a sense, shalom is a peace that recreates and rebuilds something into perfect unity and wholeness.
The incarnate Word of God, present and participating in the beginning from the beginning, came near to us… all of us. He took on the form of a man, walked among humans, bore temptation… and yet did not sin. He experienced grief and the deepest betrayal, chose the cross, willingly let Himself be given up, and released His Spirit so that death and sin would lose their power in this world. He rose again and gave his disciples both the Comforter in the Holy Spirit and His commissioning over their lives. He had been preparing them during every minute He had with them for this… that’s why He told them “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
Shalom Himself offering shalom … giving Himself… to us. To those who are near, and to those who were far away, His offer is peace: complete unity with the Father and with His people.
The dividing wall of hostility has had bricks added to it since sin broke the earth. Each prideful, arrogant, subtle, bitter, high-minded, self-righteous thought, word, deed, muttering, gossiping, murder, injustice… another brick, another addition to the hostile wall of division between the people made in the image of God. We became strangers to one another and unbearably separated from Him. Citizens of kingdoms of our own making, of our own comforts and ideals, of our own agendas, and of our own truths.
Enter Jesus, again.
But this time, let’s enter with Him. Because this is where the heavenly rubber begins to meet the road – so to speak. Shalom is something you and I want and something we accept in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, but let’s refuse to look on shalom with a smile without first looking to what it cost. It is by the blood that we have been brought near. We could not make peace with God, but He did. The barrier between God and man was destroyed, and now we are co-heirs with Shalom Himself. We are no longer strangers, no longer foreigners to the Kingdom of God. We are citizens- fully endowed with all the inheritance of children of the King. Members of HIS household.
Household. Family. A family centered on Jesus. Centered on the King and not ourselves. Oh, but we do trip up and center ourselves. We forget that this house is not an apartment building. It’s an open floor plan with a big long table and it revolves around Jesus. In Him, together, we become a dwelling place for God. He is building us *together.* He is making us one.
Friends, this is easy to write, but we don’t have to go further than a scroll on our phones to know that this is hard lived among those who claim His name. As leaders who champion the discipleship of the next generation, they are looking to us for proof that this rabbi is actually worth following... and He told us the strength of our testimony will be found in the degree to which we are one. At CPC22, we will turn our attention and our hearts to the ways we must stand as the undivided family of God.
When we remember what shalom cost, when we remember who is at the center of this house, when we remember what we are truly a citizen of, and when we choose to believe this is all indeed true… then the ache turns into anticipation, the walls fall down, and we stand undivided as a people being built together as a dwelling place for the Spirit of the Living God.
His Kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Shalom.