On December 11, 2006, Yusuf Islam will be performing at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway. I wonder if he’ll be singing his former hit song Peace Train, which he recorded as the artist Cat Stevens in 1971 before his conversion to Islam later in that decade. As I read the lyrics from many of his songs, what stood out is his own peace-seeking journey, though he never seeks the true and living God of peace earnestly. When I sang Moonshadow, I chuckled over, “And if I ever lose my hands.” As a Muslim, if he ever steals anything and gets caught, he would end up in an Islamic chop shop. Talk about Bad Brakes.
In our world today, much attention is focused on the Middle East and bringing peace to that region. While some in the west look for ways to bring enemies together to forge a compromise, most in the east look for ways to destroy Israel and America. Human efforts to bring about world peace at the bargaining table, though commendable, still leave us with enemies at the table and enemies in the field.
When Paul writes about Christ bringing this Good News of peace, he is not talking about some compromise that we can make with God at a bargaining table we set up according to our own standards. Nay! He’s talking about God sacrificing His own Son to pay for our sins so that we, enemies of God outside of Christ, may be reconciled to God by His standards. And His standard means that our sins are put on Christ, and His righteousness is put on us. God only forgives us in Christ, and we are drawn back into fellowship with God only in Christ. It happens no other way. That’s the gravity of the situation.
Upon our reconciliation, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We are no longer enemies of the Most High God. Then, as we grow in Christ, we are strengthened with the peace of God – written on the tables of our own hearts through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, who indwells only the children of God. Thus, we proclaim the Good News.
The religious Jews during Christ’s time on earth never saw themselves as enemies of God. They thought they were at peace with God and a cut above the Gentiles because they were born Jewish, sons of Abraham by physical birth. They considered the Gentiles to be on the outside looking in, and outside of becoming a Jew, a Gentile never had any hope of knowing God. Thus, Jews exalted their own heritage as a sign of favor with God. However, Christ told them that only those born again would have the blessings of God.
Thank God He sent Jesus to make peace for all of us and to give us the peace that passes all undertanding. Thank God that we are not being followed by a moon shadow, one of darkness, but that now, in Christ, we are mirrors that brightly reflect the Faithful Light. Though He finds us unfaithful, He makes us His own and guides us by His Spirit. Shalom!
Mountain Time Moment
He has brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles
who were far away from him, and to us Jews who were near.
Ephesians 2:17 NLT/LV
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"Though He finds us unfaithful, He makes us His own and guides us by His Spirit. Shalom!"
How often I wish that more and more of our brothers and sisters would know this and understand; I applaud you for saying this! The branches will be faithful only while abiding in the Vine who is forever faithful. How we exalt our faith and faithfulness is beyond me and it is so nice to hear another extol His love to us, the oft times faithless.