Peace of God
Tuesday of Pentecost 24
21 November 2017
We don't have much reason to be puffed up about ourselves. We are saved by grace, not by our own efforts. So on what basis do we have peace, except by grace? God's attitude of favor toward poor sinners like us, changes our outlook upon God and the world. Because we have grace from God and therefore have the gift of His peace, we needn't curry favor from the world. How easy it is to seek peace with the world at the expense of one's own integrity. We deeply desire to live in a world free from conflict. But that is seldom possible, especially if we intend to keep our good name and reputation.
 
It often happens that a young lover will chase his beloved with exceptional vigor and will indeed prostrate himself at her feet. He will compromise himself for her sake, because he wishes to arouse her love and favor toward him. But by so doing such a young man will often be cast aside or abused by the object of his wooing, because she takes his efforts to be demeaning or foolish. He is no fit lover for her. If he had remained aloof she might have seen him in a different light. Now he only arouses her contempt and she abuses and humiliates him. He believes he is seeking peace with her, but he only compromises his integrity.
 
We should attempt to live in peace with everyone, but we must not keep the peace at the price of committing an act of war against our heavenly Father. For if we do we will be at peace with neither God nor man. Peace is a gift that has been won by our Lord Jesus Christ, who has offered Himself on the cross of Calvary to call a cessation of hostilities between ourselves and His heavenly Father. He stood in the no-man's land between us and our heavenly Father. We are hunkered down in the filthy trenches of our sin and hostility to Him. We are keeping our heads down in that rat's denizen because we are sure that God is our enemy with the howitzer of His law trained upon our entrenchment. Fascinated by the filth in which we live and half buried as it is, we are unable to look over the rim of our ditch. We do not see that there before us, reaching down from the cross of His suffering, are the nail-pierced hands of God's Son, drawing us into the care of our Father who seeks not war with us, but peace. All the while, we seek peace only with the other deathly denizens of our filthy furrow and lose the peace of God that surpasses all human understanding.
 
Why should we be surprised when drawn to the bosom of our Father by those bloody hands to find that there is no enemy across from us, that we were pinned down only by the whining shells of warfare exploding in our own minds? Now suddenly the thudding guns go quiet. The Lord has given us requiem, peace with Him. If we live in that peace, then there will be peace with all people with whom peace is desired. John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, preaches to the people of his community commending them to the peace of God that comes from Christ. With the peace of God, none other is needed nor sought, but will be received.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   John Chrysostom
"Now if our peace is by grace, why do you have lofty thoughts about yourselves? Why are you so puffed up, if you are saved by grace? If you have peace with God, why would you commit yourself to others? For what if you be at 'peace' with this man, and with another even find 'grace?' Both these may be yours from God. Both from Him, I say, and toward Him. For no one abides secure unless they enjoy the influence from above, or unless God is the object of their peace will it avail anything. For it profits nothing, though we be at peace with all men, if we are at war with God. Just as it is no harm to us, although by all men we are considered enemies, if we have peace with God, it is no gain to us, if all people accept us, and the Lord is offended. Neither is there any danger, though all shun and hate us, if with God we have acceptance and love. For that which is truly grace, and truly peace, comes from God. Since he who finds grace in God's sight, though he suffer ten thousand horrors, fears no one, not even the devil himself.
 
"But he who has offended God suspects all men, though he seems to be secure. For human nature is unstable, and not friends only and brothers. A father also before now, has been altogether changed, and often for a little thing, he, whom he has begotten, the branch of his planting, more than all foes, an object of persecution to him. Children, too, have cast off their fathers. Thus, if you will make note of it, David was in favor with God, Absalom was in favor with men. What was the end of them, and which of them gained most honor? Abraham was in favor with God, Pharaoh with men. To oblige Abraham he gave up the just man's wife. Which of the two was the more illustrious, and happy every one knows. But why speak only of righteous men? The Israelites were in favor with God, but they were bated by men, the Egyptians. Nevertheless, they prevailed against their haters and vanquished them, with a great triumph, as you well know.
 
"Therefore, let all of us labor earnestly for this. If one is a slave, let him pray that he may find grace with God rather than with his master. If a wife, let her seek grace from God her Savior rather than from her husband. If a soldier, in preference to his king and commander let him seek favor from above. For thus among men you will also be an object of love. But how shall a man find grace with God? How else, except by lowliness of mind? 'For God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble' (Jam 4:6); and, 'the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise' (Ps 51:17). For if with men humility is so lovely, it is much more in the presence of God. Thus both the Gentiles found grace and the Jews fell no other way than from grace; for 'they did not submit to God's righteousness' (Rm 10:3).
                                        
"The lowly man of whom I am speaking, is pleasing and delightful to all men, and dwells in continual peace, and has in him no ground for contentions. For though you insult him, though you abuse him, no matter what you say, he will be silent and will bear it meekly, and will have so great a peace towards all men as one cannot even describe. Yes, and also with God. For the commandments of God are to be at peace with men, and thus our whole life is made prosperous, through peace one with another. For no man can injure God. His nature is imperishable, and above all suffering.
 
"Nothing makes the Christian so admirable as lowliness of mind. For example, hear Abraham saying, 'I am but dust and ashes' (Gn 18:27). God said of Moses that 'the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth' (Num 12:3). For nothing was ever more humble than he who, being leader of so great a people, and having overwhelmed in the sea the king and the army of all the Egyptians, as if they had been flies; and having wrought so many wonders both in Egypt and by the Red Sea and in the wilderness, and received such high testimony, yet felt exactly as if he had been an ordinary person, and as a son-in-law was humbler than his father-in-law, (Ex 18: 24) and took advice from him, and was not indignant. He did not say, 'What is this? After such great achievements, you come to me with your counsel?' This is what most people feel; though a man bring the best advice, they despise it, because of the lowliness of the person, but not Moses. Rather through lowliness of mind he did all things well. Therefore, he also despised the courts of kings, (Heb 11:24-26) since he was lowly indeed. For the sound mind and the high spirit are the fruit of humility. See how great a nobility and magnanimity that despised the royal palace and table since kings among the Egyptians are honored as gods, and enjoy wealth and treasures inexhaustible? But nevertheless, letting go all these and throwing away the scepters of Egypt, he hastened to join himself unto captives, men worn down with toil, whose strength was spent in the clay and the making of bricks, men whom his own slaves abhorred (Ex 1:12). To these he ran and preferred them before their masters. From which it is plain, that whoever is lowly is high and great of soul. For pride comes from an ordinary mind with a dishonorable spirit, but moderation comes from greatness of mind with a lofty soul. 

John Chrysostom, Homilies on 1 Corinthians, 1.3-4
1 Corinthians
1:1-17

Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,
 
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
 
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge- even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you- so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
 
I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, "I follow Paul," or "I follow Apollos," or "I follow Cephas," or "I follow Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. (ESV)
Prayer
Lord Christ, You stood Your cross in the no man's land of our sins taking our animosity and seeking our peace. Send Your Word to us that we might be drawn out of our deafened animosity toward You into the bosom of Your Father's peace. Amen.
 
For those who are ill with cancer, that the holy angels would watch over them
 
For the family of Paul Bohot, who passed away, that they would be comforted by God's promises
 
For President Dale Meyer and the faculty of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, that they might be heralds proclaiming the peace of God
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
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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