Read John 14:27; 16:33; and Ephesians 2:14–18
Two truths can be in conflict, and yet if they are true, we need to affirm them both.
First, our world is filled with genuine pain and trouble. As the Old Testament prophets warned, our rebellion against God has twisted us and our world. To pretend otherwise is to be naive at best or hard-hearted at worst. God doesn’t ask us to lie about the hardships of life.
Second, Jesus is our peace—not in a cheap or cheesy way but in an earthy, knowing, cosmos-altering way. He is the only answer to this pain and trouble. Sent by the Father in the power of the Spirit, the Son of God became fully and truly human. This God of peace breaks into our broken world as one of us and starts a renewed world, realizing the ancient prophetic hope. “He himself is our peace,” since “in his flesh” he breaks down the “dividing wall of hostility”—not just between the sinner and God, but also between Jew and Gentile, male and female, rich and poor, heaven and earth (Gal. 3:28; Col. 1:15–22).
And these two truths clash.
Jesus is our peace, not merely in some psychological manner, but also in a concrete, whole-life way. He is our peace, not by numbing us, but by forgiving and healing us and enfolding us into his love and life. Even in the darkness of night and when confusion, doubt, and chaos swirl, Jesus still says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid,” and “Peace I leave you; my peace I give you” (John 14:27).
We recognize trouble and brokenness as painful and problematic because they don’t resemble shalom. Whereas shalom brings harmony, goodness, and a flourishing world, we live amid wars, betrayal, and our own suffocating self-absorption. But in response to our rebellion and chaos Jesus brings his peace, his shalom. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. …Take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). By connecting us to God, he is our shalom. He is Israel’s hope and thus the hope of the world.
This is how we have peace in a genuinely troubled world: God, from beyond our world, has given us himself as our peace. Christ, the God-man, is our peace: He doesn’t depend on our fluctuating emotions and circumstances. God doesn’t ask us to lie about pain and problems or about his goodness and presence in Christ. Both are true. Beloved, there is trouble, but Christ is our peace amid trouble, and he gives us refuge, strength, and direction to extend his peace to this hurting world.
Kelly M. Kapic is a theologian at Covenant College and the author or editor of numerous books, including Embodied Hope and You’re Only Human.
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