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Opinions of Monday, 9 April 2018

Columnist: Daniel Gyebi

Peace be with you

In many societies, when a person says something three times, the person wants the listener to take special note of it.

You may recall that after his resurrection, Jesus asked Peter three times whether Peter loved him, and Peter uncomfortably answered three times that he loved him. The significance of the questioning was not lost on Peter especially when Jesus commissioned him three times to feed and care for his lambs and sheep (John 21:15-17). It appears that Jesus used the occasion to reinstate Peter who had denied him three times.

Before that occasion, Jesus had revealed himself to the disciples for the first time after his resurrection. Jesus blessed his disciples with peace. He blessed them three times, each time saying, “Peace be with you.” Jesus also blessed his disciples with the Holy Spirit (John 20:19-29). Therefore, the seed of peace has been sown and nurtured by the Holy Spirit in those who follow Jesus Christ and accept him as their Lord and Savior

Jesus knew that people would misunderstand the peace that he wanted to promote, and so he differentiated between his peace and world peace. In John 14:27, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

World peace is superficial. It is usually characterized by the absence of war, conflict or disturbance. For example, after World War I, some countries came together to form the League of Nations in 1920 to promote world peace by preventing war, improving life and jobs of people worldwide, and reducing or eliminating military forces and weapons. About two decades later, World War II broke out. Thereafter, in 1945, another attempt at world peace was made with the formation of the United Nations Organization, now called United Nations or UN. The United States, which was not part of the League of Nations, championed the formation of UN. Despite the good works done by the UN, conflicts, disturbances, and war drums are beating louder in various parts of the world, including our dear country Ghana.

The peace of Christ comes from the Prince of Peace himself (Isaiah 9:6). The peace of Christ is pure and whole. The peace of Christ springs from within and is unaffected by external circumstances. As we can see from the examples below, the peace of Christ is beyond all human understanding (see Philippians 4:7).

The peace of Christ is that peace which enabled Stephen to confidently gaze into heaven, endure the pain, and pray to God to forgive those who were stoning him to death for his Christian faith (Acts 7:54-60).

It is that peace which enabled Paul and Silas, shackled in chains and stripped of human dignity in prison, to joyfully sing praises to the Lord till the walls of the prison came down.

It is that peace which enabled the early Christians to defiantly but calmly match to their deaths in the face of lions, fire, swords, torture, and all forms of persecutions.

And it is that peace which enabled Horatio Spafford, a prominent American lawyer and Christian, after hearing that his four daughters had died at sea, to prayerfully write this hymn in 1873: “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul.”

Today’s Christians have no excuse for neglecting peace as we journey through the changing scenes of life. For one thing, the Apostle Paul reminds us of peace in almost all his Epistles. Paul pronounces grace and peace on Christians in the introductory portions of 13 of his 14 Epistles recorded in the Bible (except Hebrews). And, for another, there are more than enough Christians in this world to positively promote peace on earth. According to a 2015 Pew Research Center Study, “The Changing Global Religious Landscape,” Christians are the largest religious group, accounting for 2.3 billion people (or 31.2%) out of the world population of 7.3 billion.

We have a responsibility to nurture and propagate the peace that Christ has planted in us. We should let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts (Colossians 3:15), and make every effort to live in peace with all people (Hebrews 12:14). Can you imagine how peaceful the world would be even if a small percentage of Christians work actively to promote the peace of Christ on earth?

In order to achieve this goal, our thoughts should promote peace. Our words should promote peace. And our actions should promote peace. We should not rely on others to make the first move for peace. Rather, we should promote peace by starting with ourselves and then reach out to others. We should make peace with God. We should promote peace in our homes and among our families. We should promote peace with our neighbours, friends, and enemies. We should promote peace in our country and beyond. And we should earnestly pray for peace. In other words, we should do all we can to make this world a peaceful place befitting the Prince of Peace.

When we are about to say or do something, it would be helpful for us to pause for a moment and ask ourselves whether what we are about to say or do promotes peace or chaos. Sometimes, silence or inaction may be a better promoter of peace. We should pray to God to make us know the difference.

May the peace of God that passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). Christ is our peace. Peace be with you.

Prayer is the key. May God grant us the grace to seek Him daily through our prayers.

Dr. Daniel Gyebi, Attorney-at-Law, Texas, U.S.A., and Founder, PrayerHouse Ministry, Kumasi, Ghana.

PrayerHouse Ministry is dedicated to providing a quiet facility for Christians to pray individually by themselves without any intermediary priest, pastor or any other person. This is a free service. No money is demanded or accepted. One facility is located at Kyerekrom / Fumesua, near Building and Road Research Institute Offices, one mile off the Kumasi-Accra Road and next to a house called Grace Castle. If you are interested, please contact Agnes at 027-7423815. Another is located at Kantinkyiren, at the junction of Kantinkyiren and Konkori, off the Kumasi-Bekwai Road, branching left at Trede junction. Contact Kwadwo at 020-8768461 / 0246-989413

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