“If someone had written this year in the news as a novel, I would have ridiculed the plot as amateurishly unrealistic.” -Russell Moore
Grieved? Helpless? Disgusted? Numb? What’s next? Massacres, shootings, hatred, terror, racism, murder, crazy politics, religious liberty in question, a nation that is divided on so many issues we can’t even name them anymore. It has indeed been quite a year.
I was in the midst of writing these thoughts in response to ongoing tragedies such as the #AltonSterling shooting when I heard the news of the nightmare in Dallas. We are a nation in need of peace in a world in need of peace. The answers seem more complicated than we can comprehend, but in the midst of it all, there’s one thing I know: The Gospel is the answer, and it’s still true.
As Christians, sometimes we think of the Gospel only in terms of its value for life after death. All too often, we focus on erasing the consequences of our rebellion (all of us have rebelled against God) so that we can live with God for eternity when we die.
Indeed, salvation and eternal life are the heart of the gospel: that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8), the just (Jesus) died for the unjust (us) to bring us God (1 Peter 3:18). Yet why did God do all this? The Scriptures tell us that He reconciled us to himself through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18), to restore the relationship we were created to enjoy with Him. His purpose was to bring about reconciliation between sinful man and a sinless God. This He accomplished through the blood of Jesus Christ. Reconciliation is the offer He makes all who will follow Him.
But the part of the gospel message under-emphasized in our three-minute presentations is the new life we receive when we come to Christ. We are literally. made. new. I have seen the changes of this new life so many times I’ve built my life upon its reality. Liars, cheaters, thieves, addicts, all are made new by knowing Jesus Christ. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). I’ve seen the joy on the faces that Christ has changed. I’ve seen the peace in their hearts, even amidst life’s storms. I’ve seen families reconciled, addictions broken, wrongs made right. children adopted and loved. I have known this peace in my own life. The gospel is not antiquated; it is true. No one will ever convince me otherwise, because I have seen it with my own eyes!
In the beauty of this new reality, Christian, we are commissioned to carry the message of reconciliation to our fellow man. “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18, 19).
Those who know Christ know the way to peace.
There is no outward peace without inner peace.
Christian, if you have been brought near to God through Christ, you are Christ’s ambassador: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:19-21). It is only through this message that others will know peace with God. It is only through this message they will know peace with each other. For He himself is our Peace (Ephesians 2:14).
Regarding recent events: Do not be ashamed (Romans 1:16), but share the gospel of reconciliation to God. Do not be divided or take sides in arguments. Do not present easy solutions. Rather, become ministers of reconciliation wherever you go. Our country and our world need it more than ever.
For He Himself is our Peace.