Sunday, March 8, 2015

Peace: Islam's verses Christ's

“Islam is a religion of peace” is almost a mantra when their representatives are interviewed. Usually it is a defensive smoke screen after some Islamic terror has been perpetrated somewhere around the world. What riles me however, is the failure of the reporter to ask a simple question: “What do you mean by ‘peace?”’

Islam's idea of peace is submission to Mohammed and the Koran as interpreted by their Imams. Trouble is, Islam’s various sects kill each other as they try to impose their style of peace. The religion of Allah will never bring peace simply because his adherents do not know how to be at peace with him. Muslims have no certainty of paradise because they can never determine if they have impressed Allah enough to merit an entrance ticket. Martyrdom is promoted as the sure fire way to get there. What a travesty and waste of a life. Also, from what is seen and promoted, Islam is a religion of externals. To become a Muslim is to repeat a set formula. There is no change of heart, no repentance, no acceptance of forgiveness and no change of lifestyle.

Christianity's promise of peace is commitment to Jesus Christ. Peace is a heart
matter dictated by a relationship of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. If there can be no peace between an individual and God it is virtually impossible for peace between people. How does the Christian faith define peace with God, especially as it reveals Him as holy and us as the exact opposite? How can the unholy have fellowship with the Holy Eternal God? Unless there is an answer a person will live in terror of fronting Him on judgement day.

Peace with our Creator requires some common ground. Can you or I construct such a meeting place by good works, promises and outward ritual? Impossible! Everything we would touch or endeavour would be smeared and tainted by un-holiness. If such a ground was to exist, only God could bring it into reality. Has He done it? YES! How? Where?

The ‘how’ was accomplished by sending His Son, Jesus. His mission, to deal with all that offended the Father within our heart, mind and behaviour. Jesus took our offences and judgement upon Himself and carried them into the tomb. They were left there when He rose again.

The ‘where’ is the cross of Christ at Calvary! Here is the common ground created by God the Father. We stand upon it when we hear the story of Jesus, believe it is real, recognise our desperate need and ask the Lord for mercy and forgiveness. Such a conviction about Jesus Christ providing the common ground allows Him to deal with our heart ‘disease’, our perverted mind and our vain behaviour. Jesus has the power and authority of His risen life and who He is to forgive, cleanse and recreate. He makes us acceptable to His Father. Then, and only then, will you and I or anyone else have peace with God. For He meets us at the cross. In a sense, the risen Lord Jesus takes our hand and the Father’s hand and joins us together. (Read Ephesians chapters one and two plus Colossians chapters one and two.) This is why we affirm the fact that Jesus is our peace.

What has taken place in the life of a convinced and committed believer is internal. He (or she) is at peace with God. That means he (or she) can be at peace with himself (herself). There will be adjustments. There will be new insights to life. There will be the sense of relief at being forgiven and having the conscience cleansed and liberated. There will be a new outlook on life, on eternity, and on relationships. Peace is the gift of God to us through the person and work of Jesus Christ on our behalf.

There are many wonderful and powerful acts of God’s grace to us who give our lives by faith to His Son, Jesus. One at the top, to my mind, as we live in uncertain days and experience unsettling circumstance, is peace. It is a promise He gave to the disciples on His way to Calvary. It is also the greeting He gave to them after the resurrection. It is also what Jesus offers to us. “Peace I leave; my peace I give you, I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)

©Ray Hawkins 9:3.2015.

Next week. Living out the peace of God which dwells with.

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