Peace seems a long way off. Terrorist violence, superpower shuffling, unstable governments. We want peace, but not at any price.
Then we read Luke 12:49-56 and wonder what hope there is.
Jesus has come to a crisis point in his ministry. Jesus who never welcomed conflict, nor compromised with evil, is aware of growing conflict. He is the “Prince of Peace” of whom Isaiah spoke (9:6f), yet knows his ministry is causing division, and will cause violence – which he will take on himself, rather than inflict it on others. That certainly is peacemaking! But it is a long way from the “gung ho” ideas of popular Jewish Messianic expectation: a military hero, to throw out the Romans and bring an age of peace and plenty for all Jews.
So let’s ask: What peace can we expect now, and what not? We already have:
- reconciliation – forgiveness, sorting out relationships
with God, and with ourselves (if God can forgive, I must try also)
and with other people (even if some will not accept it)
- a sense of purpose, knowing our place as God’s children, with his service to keep us busy, and his people as family to whom we belong
- an answer to war and violence in common service. We don’t seek the surrender of A to B, or B to A, nor the survival of strongest, but the need for all to submit and answer to God, and work as servants of one master.
We do already have a great deal of peace to be thankful for. BUT this isn’t heaven, and we have not yet “arrived”. There are some aspects of peace for which we are still waiting:
- an end to temptation. (If temptation doesn’t disturb your peace, check to make sure you haven’t given in totally!) There is a fight on here, with no thought of a truce!
- we know that Jesus has won the victory, but we await the disarming of those who will not choose to serve him. Our peace will be disturbed by those who are deliberately evil, and those who are careless and unaware of their need to repent and serve the King
For the moment, we have reason to look forward to a time when justice happens for everybody, when there is love – and peace. We have a good deal already, and there is some “not yet” to wait and pray for.