Earlier this week, the world commemorated the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. The League of Nations’ short-lived attempt at enforcing global peace after 1918 was an example of the repeated failure of human attempts to bring lasting international harmony. The urgent quest for a truce during times of war will quickly give way to new priorities and expectations. This reveals a sad fact about our own internal drivers and how they typically conspire against attempts to find lasting peace.
1. Self-Sufficiencies are Insufficiencies
The cycle of the Judges in the Old Testament saw the people of God cry out to Him for reprieve from the oppression of their neighbours. A leader would be raised up to bring deliverance before the people would eventually revert to a default standard where, in the absence of a king, “everyone did as he saw fit” (Judges 21:25) until sin invited newfound trouble. Anxious pleas merely brought a fragile peace.
The human condition makes us naturally and inevitably self-absorbed, no matter how other-centred we might regard ourselves. Our constant urge to control our own destiny and circumstances stems from an innate tendency toward a self-sufficiency that ultimately falls short of God-dependency.
Even religious devotion can itself appeal to God for a self-determined ideal of fulfilment that ultimately cannot remain satisfied.
Only ongoing relationship with Jesus who calls us to “remain in Him” (John 15:4) can fuel us with the consistent passion that comes as we die to our insufficient selves and live in Christ whose perfection alone can satisfy our inner longing.
2. Quick Fixes are Temporary Fixes
In the Old Testament, God intended to be the king of His people, promising blessing in return for the obedience of the righteous living of His subjects. To eventually accept people into His perfect eternal Heaven, though, logically required that any imperfection incur perfect judgment which brings a penalty of eternal death.
The New Testament, though, offers the ‘good news’ of a way of escape. It is a lasting fix, rather than a quick one.
The King of kings brings true peace with God (Romans 5:1) on the basis that He alone makes us righteous if we accept His death offered in our place. This promised “prince of peace” (Isaiah 9:6) therefore reconciles us to God but His saving act is based upon us being wedded to Jesus.
We are in our Father’s family by the saving act of being ‘married’ to His Son, but this is dependent upon remaining in relationship with Him.
Freedom means liberty, not licence.
We are set free from the condemnation for our sin by an act of sacrificial love that circumscribes and inspires commitment through ongoing connection with the one who gave Himself for us.
This is why abiding in a relationship with Christ allows us to genuinely enjoy the fullness of godly living otherwise unobtainable. Provision and blessing cannot be on our terms, but comes on His alone as we remain attached to the source of our eternal security.
3. Lazy Marriages are Limited Marriages
Sadly, many who embrace a life of faith are quickly estranged from it. Though perhaps never quite straying with intent, their failure to enjoy the spiritual intimacy of relationship with their ‘bridegroom’ inadvertently denies the identity He provides and the inheritance that comes with it.
Many marriages fail or falter through the actions of at least one party in neglecting to prioritise the relationship. Ephesians 5:25 urges husbands to love their wives just as Jesus loves the church, suggesting, too, that an optimised relationship with God through Christ needs that same devotion.
This is not driven by duty, but inspired by a compelling desire to honour the one who has purchased our lives at the cost of His own blood and thereby wedded us to an identity that redefines us and redirects us for our good.
Only through the Prince of Peace can our internal tensions be resolved and our inner longings be satisfied. Augustine rightly understood that our hearts find no rest until this rest is found in Him.
It is, however, the maintenance of an optimised relationship of dependence upon God that brings lasting peace, one cultivated through prayer and a worshipful lifestyle that reflects an honour of Jesus aligning us daily to the standards of Scripture.
Our world, so devoid of the peace it seeks beyond its temporary lusts for power, wealth and earthly relationships, surely needs more than ever to find enduring peace in the one who alone can satisfy. Those who have already discovered it naturally and willingly become the best advocates and advertisements to inspire new disciples to enjoy its great reward.