The Apostle Paul said, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace (Colossians 3:15a).”
We often think of peace as the absence of conflict and the presence of harmony. This is true. However, how is such peace secured?
For the first century Jew, peace would come through the end-time Messiah, who would usher in God’s kingdom on earth.
Such peace was thought to come through a warrior king, who would defeat the enemies of the Jews.
For the first century Roman, peace would come through imperial proclamation and military pacification.
In a phrase, it would come through the “Pax Romana,” the Roman Peace.
For the Christian, neither of these claims to bring peace would suffice. Paul said toward the beginning of his letter to the Colossian Christians, “For God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in [the Son], and through him to reconcile all things, whether things in heaven or things on earth, by making peace through his blood shed on the cross (Colossians 1:19-20).”
Neither the Jewish nor the Greco-Roman way to peace would do. Yes, a Messiah-King would come, as the Jews claimed. But, this Messiah-King would not come as a warrior king; he came as a king wearing a crown of thorns.
This is an important thing for us to remember today. As bids for the 2020 Presidential Election begin to pile up, we must remind ourselves that peace will not come on Air Force One or through a House Bill. Important as these things may be, our faith tempers our political, geopolitical, economic, and military aspirations. We know that peace ultimately comes not through these things, but by the grace of God.
So, how do we let this peace of Christ rule in our hearts?
First, heart does not mean here the place where our emotions come from.
Heart here means the control center of our being, the place from where our thoughts, actions, attitudes, and – yes – our emotions flow out.
For peace to rule in our hearts, the peace of Christ must be the empire of our hearts, granting us prudence, temperament, and centeredness in Christ as we go about making the one-million internal decisions we make each day.
It displaces our anger and rage and outlandish behavior.
Will you let this peace rule in your heart? Take a moment to think about the peace Christ has secured for us. Let that peace mediate your anxieties, doubts, and heartaches.
The Rev. Michael Birbeck is pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Wellsboro.