Peace, Peace!
Friday of Pentecost 13
8 September 2017
The prophet Jeremiah warns us against heeding the preachers who say, "Peace, peace, when there is no peace" (Jer 6:14). The preaching that papers over sin, does not help those who hear it. This is no more helpful than if your physician responded to signs that you were having a heart attack by offering you only soothing words, "You'll be alright. There is nothing to worry about." If your heart stops, a physician's observations about how to live your life are of no value, if he or she does not take decisive steps to restart your heart. Dead people are notoriously poor at taking advice. In fact, such advice without medical intervention would be a cruel mockery. So it is for the preacher who declines to preach sin and grace, presuming that his parishioners are spiritually sound humans who only need some direction or advice from him about how to live life.
 
We shall not be at peace until we see Christ face to face. While He is the source of all peace in our earthly life, we do not experience the perfection of peace until Jesus takes us out of the warring madness that our enemy has introduced to this world. The peace of Christ now functions to help us face the suffering and trouble attendant upon this life, both in the crosses sent by God and in the generic suffering that is characteristic of fallen life this side of Eden. And while we have peace with God by God's gracious activity in Christ, we still daily face the warfare against the world, the devil, and our sinful flesh.
 
There will be struggle in the midst of this peace. Therefore, we Christians should not despair when the devil attacks us to overthrow our peace. He attacks us because he burns with envy against our peace, which he lusts to devour. He will not succeed. We do not lose heavenly joy when earthly war explodes over our heads. However, the greatest war is going on in our own hearts in the battle between flesh and spirit, Adam and Christ; a war stilled only by death. Finally, our incompleteness remains ever under the sign of a forgiven life lived under the cross.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Augustine of Hippo

"The peace which is peculiar to ourselves we enjoy now with God by faith, and shall hereafter enjoy eternally with Him by sight. But the peace which we enjoy in this life, whether common to all or peculiar to ourselves, is rather the solace of our misery than the positive enjoyment of felicity. Our very righteousness, too, though true in so far as it has respect to the true good, is yet in this life of such a kind that it consists rather in the remission of sins than in the perfecting of virtues. Witness the prayer of the whole city of God in its pilgrim state, for it cries to God by the mouth of all its members, 'Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors' (Mt 6:12). And this prayer is efficacious not for those whose faith is 'without works and dead' (Jm 2:7), but for those whose faith 'working through love' (Gal 5:6). For as reason, though subjected to God, is yet pressed down by the corruptible body, so long as it is in this mortal condition, it has not perfect authority over vice, and therefore this prayer is needed by the righteous. For though it exercises authority, the vices do not submit without a struggle. For however well one maintains the conflict, and however thoroughly he has subdued these enemies, there steals in some evil thing, which, if it does not find ready expression in act, slips out by the lips, or insinuates itself into the thought. His peace is not full so long as he is at war with his vices. For it is a doubtful conflict he wages with those that resist, and his victory over those that are defeated is not secure, but full of anxiety and effort.
                
"Amidst these temptations, therefore, of all which it has been summarily said in the divine oracles, 'Has not man a hard service on earth?' (Job 7:1), who but a proud man can presume that he so lives that he has no need to say to God, 'Forgive us our debts?' And such a man is not great, but swollen and puffed up with vanity, and is justly resisted by Him who abundantly gives grace to the humble. Because it is said, 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble' (1Pt 5:5; Jm 4:6). In this, then, consists the righteousness of a man, that he submit himself to God, his body to his soul, and his vices, even when they rebel, to his reason, which either defeats or at least resists them; and also that he beg from God grace to do his duty, and the pardon of his sins, and that he render to God thanks for all the blessings he receives. But, in that final peace to which all our righteousness has reference, and for the sake of which it is maintained, as our nature shall enjoy a sound immortality and incorruption, and shall have no more vices, and as we shall experience no resistance either from ourselves or from others, it will not be necessary that reason should rule vices which no longer exist, but God shall rule the man, and the soul shall rule the body, with a sweetness and facility suitable to the felicity of a life which is done with bondage. And this condition shall be eternal, and we shall be assured of its eternity. Thus, the peace of this blessedness and the blessedness of this peace shall be the supreme good."

Augustine, The City of God, 19.27
Ephesians 2:13-22

In Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (ESV)
Prayer
Dear Lord Jesus, You grant the gift of peace to Your people through the proclamation of the divine righteousness that comes by faith. By Your Spirit keep us faithful confessors of the justification that gives peace. As we look forward to a peace that has no end, help us to use Your divine gifts to fight the good fight to Your glory. Amen.
 
For those who are still unable to reach their homes due to flooding, that the Lord would grant them peace and patience as they await recovery
 
For police, national guard and other public safety officers serving in metro Houston, that the Lord would grant them strength to carry out their duties
 
For all our deployed troops, that God the Lord would watch over them and keep them safe in the midst of their duties
Art: DUBOIS, Tom,  The Invitation (2000)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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