Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
Kingdom Civics

The Power of Peace

Kingdom Civics

Monday, 10 May 2010

Power for Peace

The Character of the Kingdom (3)

 

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14.17


A real but unseen power

The Kingdom of God which Jesus and the Apostles proclaimed, and which began to unfold and expand on earth with the pouring out of God’s Holy Spirit on the first Christian Pentecost, is a very real power. Even though we cannot see it, we can see its effects, as Jesus explained to Nicodemus in John 3. The first effect of the Kingdom, as its character comes to expression on earth as it is in heaven, is to increase the righteousness of Jesus Christ on earth.

 

The Spirit of God works by powerful spiritual persuasion to restrain the power and effects of sin and to allow space for righteousness to advance among men. The Church is the primary locus to which that unseen spiritual power flows, and from which it emanates. We can know that we are obedient citizens in the Kingdom of God when the pursuit of righteousness in the fear of God is a dominant motive in all we think, say, and do (2 Cor. 7.1). For the character of the Kingdom, Paul explained, is righteousness.

 

The power of peace

The second attribute of the Kingdom is peace. Where the Kingdom of God is advancing, peace obtains, and expands to bring benefits to increasing numbers of people. Peace is that wonderful state of soul and body in which we rest contented in the steadfast love and faithfulness of God. Many things assail the peace of believers – hardships, trials, temptations, setbacks, deprivation, persecution, and much more. But these are no match for the peace of the Kingdom when that realm has begun to take hold on our lives and to become visible through us. The peace of God, and the way believers enjoy that peace, regardless of their circumstances, surpasses understanding (Phil. 4.6, 7). They who have come to know that peace know that it is real, and they rejoice in possessing it as part of their inheritance and privilege in the Kingdom of God.

 

The peace which comes with the Spirit and Kingdom of God is a gem with four facets. They who are seeking the Kingdom of God know that peace, in all its luster and beauty, and it is a gift they pass on to others as well. Believers are outposts of Kingdom peace in a world where peace of mind, and, increasingly, peace of any kind, is a commodity in short supply.

 

Peace with God

The first facet of the gem of peace is peace with God (Rom. 5.1). Through our Lord Jesus Christ we no longer fear God as a terrifying Judge (Rom. 8.1). We fear Him for Who He is, but that fear is tempered by love for God, because of all He has done for us. Love and fear move us to serve the Lord, and, in serving Him, we find His help and favor, and thus know ourselves truly to be at peace with the Lord.

 

What a glorious privilege! Believers do not languish in guilt and shame; they do not dread the day of death. Being at peace with God they know He is caring for them always, and so they endure whatever trials may come their way in the secure knowledge that all is well between them and God. This peace leads to daily seeking of the Lord, to know Him better and love Him more, and to worship that rises from the depths our souls and declares our love for God in prayer, song, and hearing the Word of God.

 

Peace with God is the first facet of the gem of peace, and it casts its beauty and brilliance on all the other facets as their defining feature.

 

Peace with ourselves

One of the things I like best about praying the psalms is that they let me be myself before the Lord. Whether I’m joyful, filled with gratitude and praise, or a little down or angry, I can always find a psalm that will take me where I am and bring into the Lord’s renewing and restoring presence. And if the Lord thus takes me where I am, should I not do the same as well?

 

We can all find reasons not to like ourselves very much – things we wish were different, better, or had never happened. But knowing that God loves us, warts and all, and that we have peace with Him in His Kingdom, we can learn to live with our follies and foibles – not complacently, but patiently, waiting on the Lord and striving to overcome our shortcomings and failings, even as we rejoice in the person God has made us to be.

 

In the Kingdom of God we can have peace with ourselves, because we know that we have peace with God, and we know that the indwelling Spirit of God is helping us to become more like Jesus Christ every day (2 Cor. 3.12-18).

Peace with others

Christians disagree about a good many things. Some of that is natural, because all human beings are different. Some of it relates to differing levels of maturity and understanding, while some also derives from our different callings in life.

 

In spite of these differences, however, Christians can be at peace with one another – although maintaining that peace can sometimes require a good deal of effort (Eph. 4.3). When we are peace with one another, the love of Christ becomes visible, we are drawn together on the basis of what we have in common, and we rejoice in the knowledge that we are true brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.

 

I’ve seen this many times over the years, particularly in my work with the movement known as Evangelicals and Catholics Together. We have many differences – both within the contingent of Evangelicals who make up this group, but also with our Catholic brethren, with whom we work to identify and declare our common convictions in the Lord.

 

Sometimes discussions can be a little difficult. Sometimes there are sharp and irreconcilable differences. But at all times the Spirit of peace rules in our meetings, and we know the reality of the Kingdom by virtue of our common citizenship being at work.

 

Peace for the world

As those who have peace with God, know His peace in our souls, and share His peace with fellow believers, we are also able to extend the offer of peace to the world around us. For years the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has offered the Gospel to countless millions of inquirers by using a little tract entitled, “Peace with God.” We can quibble and debate about the theology or adequacy of this tract; however, untold millions have come to Jesus Christ through the offer of peace, extended by a sympathetic and caring counselor, using this little outreach device.

 

Since we are called and privileged to offer the gift of peace, let us not be remiss or hold back. The peace of God, which we enjoy, and which binds us together in the Body of Christ, is the second characteristic of the Kingdom of God. They who know the peace of God, who dwell in that peace, and who extend it others inside the Body of Christ and without, they are the true citizens of the Kingdom of God.

 

For more insight to the Spirit’s work of righteousness in us, and in our communities, get the book, The Ground of Christian Ethics, from our Book Store.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore

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