The apostle James called out the sin that was happening in at least one of the churches to which he was writing: “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war…” (James 4.1-2). Yes, Christians sin (see 1 John 1.5-10; Romans 7.18-19).
Were these evils that James listed really occurring in Christian churches, or was he writing in hyperbole? I don’t know of any record of murders in churches of the First Century—but we all know what Christians can be like. Unrighteous anger toward people, and calling anyone a fool (or whatever your choice words), comes from the same evil “lusts” as would take a person’s life. These are always, as it were, minor murders that deserve eternal condemnation from God, as our Lord himself says: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matthew 5.21-22).
“But he [Christ] was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53.5). That peace provided by Christ between God and man that is revealed to us by the Spirit, believed on by our new hearts, and increasingly manifested in our love to God and our neighbour. Yes, we are healed.
Therefore, this is the peace that Christians learn to live out. This peace inevitably stops all enmity in the hearts of the Lord’s people. The more this spiritual fruit is manifested—love, joy, peace and all the other evidences of God’s grace that Paul has listed—then the more peace there will be between Christians, between Christian churches, and issuing from Christians to the world. Including over the air waves, and on the internet.
Jesus’s disciples love one another—or, we certainly should! We all know that our Lord has commanded us to love: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13.34-35). Where this love is, there is peace.
Think and meditate upon how obedience to the Lord’s second great commandment—to love thy neighbour (Matthew 22.36-40)—manifests the peace of God in “bowels of mercies” etc.: “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity [love], which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful” (Colossians 3.12-15).
Paul commands us, “Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss” (1 Thessalonians 5.26). Not always physically, maybe, but always; for this sentiment should always be in our hearts.
The peace that Christ has bought with his blood is our peace with God; and God also creates peace between people who come into his kingdom. “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. … And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2.10-14).
Christ himself is the peace between Jew and Gentile. Paul speaks on this matter in numerous places. Here is the one lengthy passage that comes to mind:
“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth1 of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
“¶ For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
“¶ Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2.11-22).
My readers who were not born as Jews, but are now born-again Christians, are grafted into God’s covenant family (Romans 11.5,11-24). “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. … Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3.6-9,13-14).
As Jesus himself said, he calls his own by name and they follow him, whether from the sheepfold of the Israelites or the “other sheep I have, which are not of this fold”—i.e. Gentiles that he must bring in, into one fold, lead by himself, the one Good Shepherd (John 10.9-16).
We really ought to walk worthy of our Lord and of his one communion of the Holy Spirit (i.e. his Church), as Paul implores us: “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4.1-6; see also 1 Corinthians 10.16-17).
It is one church that Christ is building us all into (Matthew 16.18)—one body in whom works one Spirit to serve one Lord in one kingdom of God. We Christians were all redeemed by the same blood, and are even now all of one piece, so we should all live in peace together, and endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
“Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you. Greet one another with an holy kiss. All the saints salute you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen” (2 Corinthians 13.11-14).
We should strive to attain this peace and to maintain this peace—peace with all mankind, peace both inside and outside the Church of Christ. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled” (Hebrews 12.4-15). They may be for war, but you must always be for peace (Psalms 120.7).
We must follow Paul’s wise counsel: “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12.17-21).
The New Testament Greek word is πολιτεία (politeia), meaning a unified political entity under one administration, such as a state or commonwealth, with a combined and equal citizenship (see Strong’s Concordance, Greek Dictionary #4174). ↩︎