The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, (Isaiah 53:5)
Almost anything is for sale today. In our supply and demand, consumer-minded society, there is little that cannot be obtained for a price. In fact, perhaps nothing reflects the moral status of a society more than the free-market. People can rage against the pornographer or the drug dealer, but the fact remains that the only reason they are in business is because of the demand society has placed upon their product. Regulation alone will never curb man’s sinful impulse. Only a life transformed through the power of Christ can do that.
Nevertheless, there are some things that cannot be bought on the market at any price. One of those things is peace. If there was ever a product that would guarantee to make the seller a millionaire overnight, it would be a pill or potion that could provide true, instant and sustained peace. One might even say that drug trafficking – the fastest growing crime worldwide – is a result of man’s attempt to intoxicate himself out of the reality of life’s struggles into some kind of peaceful state. Sarah McLaughlin’s beautiful, lilting song, In The Arms Of The Angel, is about the escape people try to find through the needle. One section of the lyrics say it like this:
I need some distraction
Oh, beautiful release
Memories seep from my veins
And maybe empty
Oh, and weightless, and maybe
I’ll find some peace tonight
It is a false peace that merely blurs the lines of reality, allowing a temporary anesthetizing to life’s pain, but never removing the root of the problem. Rather, the problems become compounded by the terrible price paid, not only by the individuals who are bound in the chains of addiction, but by their families and, ultimately, by society as a whole. The very fact that people take such drastic measures to find some sort of reprieve from the reality they can’t seem to face, demonstrates the need man has for peace.
Enter Jesus. It was His death upon the cross that laid the foundation for our peace. Regardless of one’s religious convictions or absence thereof, it is not difficult to see that something is wrong with the world. Things are not as they should be. Even atheists, who do not allow for a transcendent moral order, struggle to understand human suffering and senseless violence. We know it’s wrong. The world is broken, and it is only the Christian worldview that gives us a coherent answer as to why things are as they are.
God did not make the world a chaotic, violent place. He made the paradise man should live in before forming him from the dust of the earth. There was nothing missing or broken in the Garden. Man was at peace with his Maker and himself. However, man also had a free will. The gift of freedom is necessary if we’re to be anything more than a robot dancing to divine will. Only with freedom of choice can there be real love. Love and loyalty must be given. It cannot be coerced or demanded. If you know the story of the Garden, you know that man’s choice to rebel against God ended in his spiritual death and separation from God. Though God would make a way of reconciliation through Christ, the consequences of man’s choice could not be completely reversed. Adam and Eve immediately knew that the unbroken fellowship with God they had enjoyed was lost and replaced by fear and shame. They knew they were naked and hid themselves from God, clumsily trying to cover their inadequacy with fig leaves. God, however, clothed the with the skin of an animal, revealing in type and shadow that the nakedness of our fallen condition could only ever be covered by blood.
It was Christ who ultimately came to earth to be the final sacrifice for sin, bridging the gap between a holy God and sinful man. Now by faith we are justified (made right with God), and our peace with Him restored (see Romans 5:1). It is this peace with God that serves as the foundation for peace in every other circumstance of life. David put it this way:
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me; (Psalms 23:4)
I can go through just about anything in life if I know I have God on my side. Even death itself loses its sting when we have the assurance of a life beyond the grave in a place of perfect peace in His presence forever. I have performed many funerals in my thirty plus years of ministry, and I have been at the gravesides and mourned the loss of both family and friends. However, I can tell you without hesitation that the peace that comes from the assurance of knowing we have peace with God, both now and in the life to come, makes all the difference in the world. Without such assurance, we are bereft of hope, but with it we have an abiding and ultimate hope.
Christians face the same challenges non-Christians do, but the difference is in knowing we don’t face any of them alone. We have a God who loves us enough that He paid our debt and reconciled us to Himself that He might hold us close, in both good times and bad. For this reason, I never want to take a step out of His purpose for my life and forfeit such wonderful peace. These are tempestuous times, and no one has the assurance that things are going to get better in this world. In fact, Jesus assured us otherwise. He said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
I spend a lot of time arguing for the Christian worldview. I am privileged to teach Christian apologetics, which is the defense of the Christian faith. There are a lot of good arguments to persuade the skeptic, but in the end, it is this existential argument of my experience of peace in the midst of life’s storms that, to me, is the most compelling. You can’t find that in the bottom of a bottle or on the wrong end of a needle. You can’t find it in job security or success. Some of the world’s best and brightest, who had attained to the dizzying heights of success, have taken their own lives because they could not find this one missing element of peace in their soul.
Peace is the province and provision of God. It belongs freely to His children. In a world full of so much uncertainty, I can think of little better to recommend my God to you. The path to Him is narrow. It is, in fact, found only through the person of Jesus Christ (John 14:6). It is through Him and Him alone that our ransom was paid and God’s peace secured.
Dr. Randy Bunch is the pastor of West Kern Christian Center, located at 1000 6th Street in Taft, California, as well as a graduate advisor and adjunct professor at Summit Bible College in Bakersfield, California. He is the author of several books, including his new devotional, Immutable: Changeless Truth for a Changing World. For more information, or to purchase your copy, go to immuntablebook.com. For more information on the ministries of WKCC, you can go the ministry’s website at wkcconnect.org.