Pastor's Corner: May 28th, 2021
This coming Monday marks the Memorial Day holiday in the United States.
Originally conceived to honor the soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives in service of their country in the Civil War, the day has since become one that honors those who have given their lives in all armed conflicts this country has participated in over the years.
Sadly, there have been many, and many who have given their lives.
Recorded human history has shown only 268 years of the past 3400 that were entirely peaceful, in which there was no war or armed conflict occurring in the world. The United States itself has only experienced only a little over a dozen years of 'peace' in the 245 years in which it has been a nation. Only a couple of handfuls of years in which there were not U.S. soldiers involved in a war or armed conflict somewhere in the world. Often these were not large scale conflicts like the Civil War, or World War I, and World War II, and were more often police actions, or small scale wars in various locations.
Recent history is even more challenging - with the 20th century marking the greatest levels of armed conflict and loss of life worldwide with the scopes of World War I, and World War II, than any other time in human history. 187 million people, both soldiers and civilians, lost their lives as a result of armed conflict during the 20th century alone.
The 20th Century was so filled with conflict - that historians record there is no year from 1900-1999 in which there was worldwide "peace", no time in which there was an absence of armed conflict in the world.
I say 'peace' in quotes, because despite there being a few years of overall peace in human history, those years were not absent of conflict, they were not years of true peace. Anger and wrath, envy and jealousy among the human condition has led to a great degree of interpersonal conflict throughout the history of mankind.
Sometimes - these conflicts can be resolved, and other times - they blossom into greater conflict.
Jesus Christ in his words to His disciples on the evening He was to be betrayed, arrested and tried - assured us of the Peace which He provides.
John 16:31-33 records, "Do you finally believe? But the time is coming--indeed it's here now--when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have told you all this so you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." (NLT)
True, lasting peace - the kind of peace which can enable us to resolve conflict and be at true peace, comes from Christ Jesus. It comes from His presence in our life, His righteousness poured out upon us, and our trust and obedience and the resulting righteous actions in our lives.
In Isaiah 32:16-17, the prophet Isaiah records, "Justice will rule in the wilderness, and righteousness in the fertile field. And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes it will bring quietness and confidence forever." (NLT)
This passage in Isaiah is talking of a coming time - a time in which a righteous King comes. Honest princes rule under Him, and Israel is delivered from her conflict. Those who have eyes will see the truth, those who have ears will hear it. Once His spirit is poured out upon the land, the wilderness will become fertile, and those fields will yield bountifully.
God's people will live in safety, quietly at home, they will be at rest. God will bless his people wherever they plant seed crops will spring up and cattle and donkeys will graze freely.
Unfortunately, that day is not today, and conflict is a reality which we all face, as Christ said in John 16 - tribulation and sorrows, but we can take heart in knowing that He has overcome the world.
He has won the battle - and it is up to us to remain faithful unto death. To yield and obey Him, allowing the spirit of God to dwell in us and lead us in the ways of righteousness. Lead us to peace, the peace which can only come from God.
Philippians 4:6-7 promises this peace to those who follow God, "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." (NLT)
As we live in Christ Jesus - in His presence, and the presence of our Father, dwelling in the Spirit - that peace guards our hearts and minds - providing us with the peace of God. The harmony, and tranquility, and freedom from worry that we all so desperately need.
As the Memorial Day weekend comes and goes and we remember those who lost their lives to conflict - let us consider the way which God has provided, and the peace He provides. A solution to the conflicts of this world, and to the loss of lives as a result of those conflicts.
Let us all pursue the peace of God earnestly!