“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace
at all times and in every way.
The Lord be with all of you.” (2Th. 3:16)
We have arrived at the end of our journey through 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, which began some five and a half months ago. We have encountered a young vibrant church that was born in a hostile pagan environment, with opposition from the Jewish leaders (Acts 17). All in all though, it was a great church full of faith, growing in it’s love for Christ and each other. There were problems, like in every church, of which the following are repeated in both letters: lazy people who were not contributing to the rest of the body, and some confusing/bad teaching about the return of Jesus. The two problems are actually closely related since doctrine often affects our behavior. For example, “if Jesus is soon returning, why work?”. You could imagine what kind of issues this caused in the church community. In summary, the church had opposition from the outside religious sects, and contention and strife on the inside between its members. Sounds like every church I have ever been part of! Not to mention the depravity of the ruling Roman government and society in which it existed. This sure is sounding like the church today! It is remarkable that the Church of Jesus Christ exists at all, with so much opposition, adversity, and potential for failure. BUT, it thrives on! With all of its trials and challenges, the Church - the body of Christ, not the institution - continues in its “work produced by faith, labor prompted by love, and endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Th. 1:2).
Have you ever wondered how and why the Church survives through the ages - through all the doctrinal splits, internal tension, external opposition and persecution? How is it possible that the Church continues to grow, mature, and make herself ready for the return of its Bridegroom? The answer is the Lord Jesus supplies all of our needs for survival (Phil.4:19). Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). The Lord is with us - He is building His church! What a great statement! If God is with us and for us, what can stop us? Answer…nothing! (Rom. 8:31).
Well, we probably know that and believe that, but what is the fruit of that belief? When we say, “The Lord be with you”, what are we really saying? I believe that we are saying, “May He supply all of your needs, emotional, physical and spiritual, and may His power and presence be realized in your life.” For instance, in this world where the Church exists with so much opposition, contention and strife from within and without, “may the Lord of peace himself give you peace… always.” Peace comes from the Lord. It is available to us anytime and in every way. But, do we receive it and walk in it? Think about this…Jesus, the prince of peace, the source of peace, the embodiment of peace, lives on the inside of us! Why would we be anxious or fear? The One who said this, “Peace I leave with you; 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 be afraid” (John 14:27), also said be anxious for nothing – don’t worry! (Matt. 6:34; Phil. 4:6). Peace, true shalom is the absence of fear and anxiety - it is the sum total of complete dependence on God for every single need, no matter what the need is. It is learning to be content in all situations because the Lord is with us! The Lord is my shepherd….I shall not want…anything!!! He is the source of peace, and He lives on the inside of us. Is it not remarkable that Paul would close his letter with a call for believers to walk in the peace that Christ brings (and often greets his readers with the same – see 1Th.1:1; 2Th.1:2). “In this world you will have trouble”, said Jesus. Ain’t that the truth! There is a lot to cause us to lose our peace. If the source of peace is found in a Person, definitely not within ourselves as other religions teach, then we had better cultivate an intimate relationship with that Person – Jesus!
Peace is a person! “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Isa. 26:3). When I was younger, attending church with my parents, there was always a time in the service when we turned to the people around us, shook their hand and said, “peace of Christ be with”. What a powerful statement! I did not see the benefit of it back then. But, imagine doing that regularly, each Sunday, or whenever you greet someone, even a non-believer! A reminder to the recipient that peace is only found in the person of Jesus! Jesus is the source of true peace! He is also, as the scriptures teach, the source of true joy, grace, hope, life, truth, etc. And here is the remarkable thing of the whole matter, as we await the return of Jesus, surrounded by a crazy world quickly unraveling before our eyes – The Lord is with you! He is all you need, and He is right there with you! How awesome is that! Let us avail ourselves of His presence and experience peace and joy in the middle of the storms of life.
Have a blessed week!
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