Even a casual glance at the news is enough to make you realize that there are a lot of conflicts and wars going on in the world. Depending on how you count them, there are somewhere between 10 and 30 wars going on right now. This is not unusual. A brief look at a history book tells you that war and conflict are one of the constants of human existence.
Although war and conflict have been with us almost from the beginning of human history, there is something in us which tells us that this is not how it ought to be. Though, in one sense, war and conflict are normal, we consider it abnormal. Listen to some of the lyrics of one of the most popular songs of the Civil War.
“Many are the hearts that are weary tonight,
Wishing for the war to cease;
Many are the hearts looking for the right
To see the dawn of peace...” (Tenting Tonight on the Old Campground, Walter C. Kittredge, 1863)
Because war really is abnormal; because we believe that people really do have a right to see the dawn of peace, wherever there is conflict, there are those who are working diligently to restore peace. We have peace commissions. There are peace conferences. The Nobel organization awards prizes to those whom they feel have done the most to advance the cause of peace. Yet, no sooner than one conflict is resolved, another breaks out.
Why has all the effort expended to bring about peace failed to solve the problem? It is because the conferences and commissions only deal with the symptoms of conflict instead of the root issue. What is it that causes wars and quarrels? James writes, “...Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (James 4:1 NIV) In other words, conflicts and wars are external expressions of inner desires. There will never be lasting peace until man’s desires and covetousness are addressed.
But the problem really goes deeper. The conflict in our world is a reflection of mankind’s alienation and conflict with God. In order to have peace with one another, we all must first make peace with God. There’s a song from the 1970’s with the lyrics, “There will never be any peace until God is seated at the conference table.” (There Will Never Be Any Peace, Imperials, 1975)
How can we have peace with God? Speaking of Christ, the Apostle Paul writes, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation– if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel...” (Colossians 1:19-23 NIV)
It is through Christ’s blood that God has reconciled us to Himself. It is through Christ’s body, through death, that God has made us holy and free from accusation. But notice that there is a condition. We must continue in our faith. We must not abandon the gospel.
One of the reasons we meet together each First Day of the week is to strengthen our faith. We meet to remember the gospel, which is the good news of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. We participate in Communion in order to remember. The piece of bread we eat reminds us of Christ’s body through which God has made us holy. The cup of juice we drink reminds us of Christ’s blood through which God has reconciled us to Himself. Today, as we eat and drink let’s remember that it is through Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf that we have peace with God.
Join me in prayer.