Today is The International Day of Peace (“Peace Day”) which is observed around the world each year on September 21st. It was established in 1981 by a unanimous United Nations resolution.
According to the United Nations web site, “Peace Day should be devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples… Since its inception, Peace Day has marked our personal and planetary progress toward peace.”
The 2017 theme is “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety, and Dignity for All.” The UN is seeking to bring together the “193 member countries, the private sector, civil society, academic institutions and individual citizens in a global partnership in support of diversity, non-discrimination and acceptance of refugees and migrants.”
Their “17 sustainable developmental goals” include ending worldwide poverty, eradicating hunger, achieving gender equality, combating climate change, and promoting long-term economic growth.
From a Christian perspective, each of us should desire peace. The Bible admonishes, “Pursue peace with all people” (Heb. 12:14). Paul exhorted the Roman Christians to “make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Rom. 14:19). In fact, he urged, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:19).
So, the UN goal of peace is a noble quest. A worthy endeavor. And even a scriptural mandate. Yet, as I search their website something is missing. Or should I say someone is missing. God. Jesus. And the Holy Spirit.
Real peace is impossible apart from a Biblical understanding of what peace is, how it’s obtained and the way it’s sustained.
Jesus Christ, the prophesied Messiah was identified as “the Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6). He came to a world filled with conflict, discrimination, inequity, and poverty. He brought peace. But He did not eliminate all social ills. Or eradicate injustice.
To the apostles, Jesus promised, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (Jn. 14:27). Ironically that peace was ushered in when Jesus was cruelly crucified on the cross.
The Bible says that he “made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col. 1:20). Jesus’ death was the means of reconciliation the brought together both Jew and Gentile, servant and master, male and female (Eph 2:14-17; Gal.3:26-29). The cross broke down barriers. And the “message of the cross” (1Cor 1:18) became the power of God, not only to eliminate artificial distinctions among all people but more importantly to save the human race from sin.
The real problem contributing to the absence of peace is sin. It is sin that breeds hate, arouses suspicion, inflames emotions, and provokes racial strife. And sin can only be addressed by accepting Christ as one’s Savior (Ax 5:31).
Peace begins when we seek restoration with God and find justification by faith (Rom. 5:1). Peace is a personal responsibility. It is the fruit of the spirit I must work to develop (Gal. 5:22). And “the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those that make peace’’ (3:18). Right living comes first. Then peace. People want peace but unfortunately are not always willing to pay the price.
Peace may be personally enjoyed even amid global conflict and cultural crisis.
Let us share the “peace of God” not only through the gospel message, but by treating others with respect and valuing the dignity of each person created in the image of God.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman