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Put On the Gospel of Peace

January 20, 2020 • Life for Leaders

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6:14-17 (NIV)

 

If we are to prevail in the spiritual battle of our lives, we must “put on the full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11). We have already considered what it means to put on “the belt of truth” and “the breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6:14). Today move on in our text, reflecting on how we might also put on “the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15).

A picture from the MLK Memorial in Washington D.C. with a quote on peaceThe good news of peace plays a leading role in Ephesians. The phrase “gospel of peace” echoes Isaiah 52:7, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” Isaiah’s messianic prophecy points forward in time to the work of Jesus Christ. In Ephesians 2, we learn that Christ “is our peace” because he has broken down the hostility between Jews and Gentiles through his death on the cross (Ephesians 2:14). Christ’s purpose was “to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace” (Ephesians 2:15). Our role, as people who have been reconciled to each other through Christ, is to “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).

Notice that the peace of which Ephesians speaks has multiple dimensions. Yes, it surely includes peace with God through Christ (Ephesians 2:8; see Romans 5:1). Moreover, the peace of Christ is something we experience within us as it guards our hearts and minds (see Philippians 4:7). But Ephesians, in particular, emphasizes the relational and social dimensions of peace. Christ, the ultimate peacemaker, reconciles former enemies. His goal is not just the absence of hostility, but “one new humanity” (Ephesians 2:15). Thus, the peace of God in Christ is embodied in relationships of love and justice, and in a world shaped by these relationships.

When we put on the gospel of peace as part of God’s armor, we accept the peace given through Christ. We recognize that genuine peace with God necessarily leads to peace among people. We seek to be stewards of God’s peace wherever we are: in our families and neighborhoods, in our workplaces and churches, in our cities and nations. This is far more than merely being “nice.” True peacemaking addresses deeper causes of enmity and injustice. It seeks reconciliation that enables all people to flourish by walking in the good works God has prepared for them (Ephesians 2:10).

A commitment to peace is especially crucial when it comes to spiritual warfare because one of the main ways the Enemy wounds the church is through our conflicts and divisions. Yet by making “every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3), we can foil the schemes of the Evil One even as we strengthen the body of Christ for its work in this world.

Something to Think About:

In what ways have you experienced the peace of Christ?

How do you steward the peace of Christ in your workplace? family? community? church?

Something to Do:

Think about how you might steward the peace of Christ this week. Then make tangible plans to act on what you have determined. Do something to advance Christ’s peace this week.

Prayer:

Gracious God, thank you for your peace. First, we thank you for the peace with have with you by your grace. What a joy to be reconciled to you through Christ!

Second, we thank you for the inner peace you grant us, especially in times of distress. Your peace is indeed beyond understanding, a generous gift from a generous God.

Third, thank you for forging peace among people. We are divided in so many ways. You seek to reconcile us through Christ. For this we thank you.

And because of this we commit ourselves to being faithful stewards of your peace. May we be peacekeepers and peacemakers wherever we find ourselves, by your strength and for your glory. Amen.

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project:
Earthquake Poem by Thomas Merton, Based on Isaiah 52

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