THE PRINCIPLE OF PEACE AND RECONCILIATION

This principle ties in intimately with the principle of love and the principle of grace and forgiveness. Like all of God’s truth there is a mutual interdependence, a total cohesion. Each part affirms and supports the other. Each part depends on the other. The more we understand this the more our lives will display this same consistency and cohesion.

In Genesis 3 the entry of sin erected a barrier and separation in the four fundamental relationships of our lives:

Our relationship to ourselves [Genesis 3:7]. Prior to this there was none of that destructive self-awarenesss and self-focus that is the root of the personal feelings of shame and worthlessness, self-negation, self-rejection, and all similar self-thoughts that emotionally cripple and destroy us as persons.

Our relationship to each other [Genesis 3:12]. Prior to this there was total peace and acceptance of one another. But here began the perceived need for self-preservation and self-justification that immediately makes the 'other' a potential enemy as we seek to defend, promote and preserve ourselves. Interpersonal trust was eroded and to a large extent ceased.

Our relationship with God [Genesis 3:8-10; 22-24]. Having rejected God and his word the first two humans severed their relationship with God. They put themselves on 'the other side' because God, in their deceived perception, was the enemy. They identified themselves as anti-God - against his command, against his plan and purpose for human life. In thus rejecting God and God's command we also rejected our own ultimate human potential, for only in positive relationship with God can we be what we were created to be.

Our relationship with the rest of creation [Genesis 3:14-19]. It is clear from these verses and from Romans 8:18ff that the original human sin impacted the whole created world. An Australian politician frequently said 'Life wasn't meant to be easy!' The real truth is is that life actually was meant to be easy. The way things are is not the way they were in the perfection of Genesis 1 and 2, nor what they will be in the 'new heaven and the new earth'. In this interim age the whole creation 'groans' under the burden of physical death and destruction, waiting for the renewal and restoration of all things after the final judgment.

This multi-level separation is the deep meaning of the word ‘die’ in Genesis 2:17. Disobedience, sin, inevitably causes this division which is actually the death of the real human being that God created, and the destruction of the inter-personal relationships intended by God. In this division and separation there are inevitable power-plays as human beings [individually or corporately] seek to justify, promote, preserve and defend themselves by dominating and belittling one another.

But God’s action in Christ:

Has already restored unimpeded relationship with God [Romans 5:1,9-11; Colossians 1:20-22].
Restores peace in our inner being as we embrace its impact.
Restores peace between us and each other as we understand and obey it.
Will restore peace with the rest of creation when Christ returns.
 

God commands those who believe in him to be governed by and to express this principle of peace and reconciliation in our relationships with each other:

‘If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone’ [Romans 12:18]

‘Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace’ [Colossians 3:15]

‘Live in peace with each other’ [1Thessalonians 5:13b]

‘Make every effort to live at peace with all men …’ [Hebrews 12:14a].

That same peace and reconciliation which the gospel establishes between us and God is to be a governing principle of our lives. We are to relate to one another always and only 'in Christ' where there is no difference, no competition, no enmity. Just as 'grace reigns' so also should this peace and reconciliation reign in our hearts, in our relationships and in our lives in this world.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2016