The God of Peace Come to Stay

Men, why are you doing this?  We also are men, of like nature with you, and bring you Good News, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God Who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.             Acts 14:15

Years ago, when they were a couple, Prince Charles and Lady Diana were “coming to town” – they were going to visit southwestern BC.  People were falling all over themselves in excitement: The royalty of the British Empire was going to spend a moment in this corner of the world.

People traveled distances just to get a chance to see them.  Local dignitaries from mayors to beauty queens were nervous and excited about meeting this famous couple.  Probably we all would have the same reaction if we were to have such an opportunity.  After all, this is royalty, and who are we, but just everyday common folk.

I wonder what it must be like to be royalty.  Oh, I’m sure it must get tiresome with being so constantly in the public eye, with the responsibility and all the traveling that must be done.  Yet, when you have so many people so thrilled to see you – just to see you, well, I would imagine that that must have its effect.  To feel that important, that highly valued – to be aware that just so much depends on you, you are that powerful in the lives of common people – I would imagine that there are times that they do enjoy the limelight.

But can you imagine what it must be like to be regarded as a GOD?  Imagine the sense of power and importance that that would bring!  Why you would have the feeling that the whole universe revolved around you!  You would be no insignificant person stuck on a forgotten corner of the globe – no, siree!  You would be something that mattered, you would be important; people would fall at your feet not out of respect but out of worship!

Hasn’t this been the attraction for the human ever since Satan’s temptation, “You shall become like God”?  Isn’t that the main core of the New Age movement and other religions?  Something inside of us is intrigued by the idea that we can be gods.

Such was the temptation of Paul and Barnabas.  They did an astounding miracle which by itself won them the position of very powerful people – gods, even.  A man in Lystra was crippled from birth – he had never walked,  and simply by a command from Paul, the man jumped up and walked.  What it takes a baby months to learn: the sense of balance, the coordination of muscles and all the rest, the man learned in moments.  But even more: what was once a bent broken, misshapen body suddenly had nothing wrong with it.

Well, the townspeople were simply amazed.  Nobody had been able to do anything like that before.  Nobody had that power.  Obviously these men had to be gods.  Can you imagine the excitement!  Everybody wanted a glimpse.  People from everywhere rushed to the place where Paul and Barnabas were.

The priest of the local temple of Zeus must have been falling all over himself, dazed and excited, never dreaming that this god would actually come to his very town in his lifetime.  He just didn’t know what to think, but he did know that he’d better get over there and offer a sacrifice, lest these gods become offended.

How tempting it would have been for Paul and Barnabas to have everybody literally treating them like gods, everybody hanging on their every word, ready to jump up and do their slightest bidding, eager to press upon them all sorts of treasures and goodies.

But no, that wasn’t what Paul and Barnabas were there for.  In fact, they had something even greater TO GIVE these people.  It wasn’t as if some local gods were passing through – no, they had come to tell these people of a God Who had come TO STAY.  A living God, Who had come to give them LIFE, Who had come to give them Life in a most special way.

Here was a God quite unlike any that the Greeks and the Romans had.  Their concept of gods were ones that were simply big men and women.  These gods could get angry and offended at even the slightest wrong.  The world was supposedly at the mercy of their whims, at the mercy of their rebellions and fights.  The morality of these gods was literally no better than the average human being’s, and they would often break their own rules.

However, in the case of college education, natural time occurrence is higher for those who graduate with a degree than for individuals who have only some college background with 3.1 percent and 2.4 percent respectively. This can be achieved by visiting a sex therapist in order to get to the root cause and finish it to avoid further troubles. Habitual taking painkillers, harsh “liver cleansing”, fasting may bring additional serious problems discover to find out more buy viagra in uk to pancreas. This is because men are not able to attain an erection but they are unable to acquire it and the better sexual life they want to be sexually activity for all the time. levitra prices But that wasn’t the God that Paul and Barnabas had to share!  Nowhere else do you find a God Who so totally stood outside the likeness of man!  This God had every right to utterly destroy humanity for the constant sin and abuse of His creation, to annihilate mankind for the constant rebellion, for the continual breaking of His commandments – in righteous wrath God had and has every right to squash the world for its constant offense to His holiness.  At least that’s what the gods of the Greeks and Romans would have done.

But what does this God do??  He came to give HIS OWN life up.  He was willing to die, not just for His friends, but even for His enemies.  He was willing to have nails in His hands and a spear in His side, so that He could rescue HIS ENEMIES.  This was a new message!

We need to be reminded of this as well.  All too we often treat God as if He were a big man – just listen sometimes to how we pray, just look at our attitudes when we think of God.  Do we treat Him as if He were a most stingy God and we must plead and beg from Him?  Do we act as if He were a most remote God with no idea about what is going on in our world, whether it be a problem we encountered or maybe in His powerlessness to respond to our stewardships?  Do we act as if God has little control in regard to outcomes?  Is the God we think of, truly a God Who brings PEACE into our lives, or is He One Who brings tension and anxiety?  Too often, we end up with a God that is no different than those of the Greeks and Romans!

That’s why we are here today, to have Paul and Barnabas, as it were, come running out to tell us some Good News of a LIVING God – of the God found in Jesus.  What a twist Jesus is!  Here is not a man who is god-like, but instead here a God Who has become a man!  And what we have seen as we watched this God-become-man walk this earth!  We see Him die for His enemies, we see Him healing and feeding and blessing.  We see Him teaching.  We see Him giving life.  We see Him involved in a very personal way with humanity.

In the Gospel this morning, He talks about PEACE.  What a word that is!  How many interpretations and variations there can be of that word.  We talk of a cold war peace, which really isn’t a peace, its just a lower-key war.  But we call it peace because only a FEW people are shooting at each other.  The tension is still there.  The fear, the pain, the death are all still there.

But that’s not Jesus’ peace.  Jesus’ peace is something that goes deep into the heart: a peace that puts to rest our fears, that cuts the tension, that releases us from the chains that tighten on our hearts and bodies.  It is a peace that makes our hearts rise like a wood in water rises and bobs at the top.  It is a peace that comes when you know that all things are under control and that the One Who controls everything cares very much about you, about what is happening to you and what the outcome will be.

It is the peace that comes when you know that everything that could spoil this relationship has been removed; your sins, rebellions and faults are fully dealt with; and to have the confidence that as you repent, there will never be a time when you might lose the closeness of the God Who is in control.  It is a peace that comes from knowing that nothing can ever separate you from His love – nothing in all creation – from the Love that was willing to die even for determined, rebellious enemies.

In the Hebrew, which had to be at the back of the disciples’ minds, peace – “shalom” – means wholeness, where everything inside you is fully integrated together, everything is working together within one’s connection with God.  There is no double-mindedness, no conflicting desires – all is focused on the presence of the Lord and His Glory: His goodness, His Covenant relationship, His Steadfast Love, grace, mercy, faithfulness, forgiveness, and justice – so that these things become inescapably reflected in our lives with a serenity that comes only because we are firmly grounded in all that our Lord is and has done for our eternity.

But how does one get this peace?  The answer Jesus provides is designed to give us peace: The living God comes to live in us.  That was the message of Pentecost, the message of Baptism: God isn’t afraid to actually come into each of our lives, into each of our hearts and minds.  There He will remind us of His love, His help, His power, His forgiveness.  He will teach us as we experience each day, because He will guide and direct us.  He will remind us and will make this wholeness become part of our day, part of who we are!

AND THIS PEACE IS WHAT JESUS IS!  Look at that love on the cross!  Look at that power in the resurrection!  Look at that concern as He appears for the sake of Doubting Thomas, as He appears for the sake of guilt driven Peter!  Look at the forgiveness He had even for those pounding the nails into His hands and feet, even for those who were the priests who had Him murdered.  Look at what Jesus said when He told us that He was going to heaven to guarantee a place in heaven with our name on it, so that we might always know that God will be looking for us to get there.  It is here, in this Living God Who has come to stay, that a true peace can be found.

We specially meet this Living God Who has come to stay in Holy Communion.  Here He is Himself, His Body and His Blood – His proof that He is here to stay.  As this bread becomes actually part of our bodies and as the wine now flows freely through our veins, so also He becomes forever a part of our spirit and body and soul – becoming one with us in such a way that there can be no doubt that He is with us always, even to the end of the ages.  Here is our proof that God has forgiven us totally!  Here is the proof that He has started in us that oneness, that integration, that SHALOM which will mark who we are forever.  Here is His LIFE to make US live forever.

What Good News Paul and Barnabas did have for those people who had thought that gods had come visiting, and instead were introduced to the Living God Who had come to stay.  Now YOU come, as Jesus enters you, as the Holy Spirit brings to your remembrance all that Jesus has taught, and shown, and lived for us.  Come and see the Living God at work here for your peace – for your true peace, your SHALOM.

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