One Old Testament prophecy about the coming Messiah reads, “His name shall be called…the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). And Jesus Christ is our Prince of Peace. He gives us peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Our wonderful continent, Africa, is racked by so many things that deny us peace: extreme poverty, crime, civil conflict, genocide, abuse, war and more. Thus, it is sometimes very difficult to see how Jesus could be the all-powerful Lord and God. Where is the evidence that Jesus, who embodied peace, has impacted the course of the troubled human story?
Our Peace is Never Perfect
In my country, The United Republic of Tanzania, we have been experiencing relative political and national peace for many years. Yet it is not untroubled. There is still rampant immorality, global issues, unemployment, the advancement of liberal ideology, heart-breaking divorce, and human rights violations, among other things. But when we talk of Jesus Christ being the Prince of Peace, even our own physical safety and political harmony does not necessarily reflect the kind of peace he promised (John 14:27).
Where is the evidence that Jesus, who embodied peace, has impacted the course of the troubled human story?
The Hebrew word for peace, Shalom, is often used to refer to the appearance of calm tranquillity, be it in an individual or a nation. The Greek word for peace, Irenē, can mean unity or accord. But it can also refer to an inner peace or spiritual harmony; the result of an individual’s restoration to her God and creator.
Christ’s Work of Reconciliation means Peace with God
In our sinful state, God demonstrated his love to us (Romans 5:6-8). Jesus Christ died for us and restored our relationship with God. He secured true peace. Christ called wearied and burdened people to come to him (Matthew 11:28) and he promised rest for our tired souls (Matthew 11:29). So if we call upon him – no matter what hardships we face – we can know peace that comes from his powerful love, surpassing even understanding (Philippians 4:6-7). Paul knew this peace, not by his own strength or changed circumstances, but because he was in Christ (Philippians 4:11-13).
Paul knew peace, not by his own strength or changed circumstances, but because he was in Christ
The Children of God are to be Peacemakers
In his book, Issues Facing Christians Today, John Stott wrote, “Jesus spoke of both war and peace. On the one hand, he warned us of ‘wars and rumour of wars’; on the other he included in his characterisation of the citizens of God’s Kingdom the active role of peace-making. He pronounced his peacemaking followers blessed by both God and the children of God (Matthew 5:9). Peacemaking is a divine activity. God has made peace with us and between us through Christ. We cannot claim to be his authentic children unless we engage in peacemaking too.”
The peace we know and enjoy in Christ is paradoxically a position of power. For we will not be moved by the changing wind and waves. Because what we have in our hearts, the peace inside us, does not rise and fall with our circumstances. Furthermore, it enables us to offer peace and generosity towards others. It therefore enables us to become peacemakers (Matthew 5:9).
The peace of God acts as a sentry guarding the Christian’s mind and emotions from being overwhelmed by the sudden onrush of fear, temptation and uncertainty.
Pray for and Promote God’s Peace
Most of our African communities need this peace. Thus we need to call on the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, casting our burdens and cares onto him. We can cry out as we ask him to make our land a better place to live. But as we wait we can enter into his peace and share it with those who don’t know it. We need to pray for peace, because prayer replaces worry and anxiety. For the peace of God acts as a sentry guarding the Christian’s mind and emotions from being overwhelmed by the sudden onrush of fear, temptation and uncertainty. Christians should live this peace out daily, throughout our continent of Africa and beyond.
The psalmist wrote, “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him. For dominion belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations” (Psalm 22:27-28). The hope in view is not just that, “all nations” but even smaller groupings, “all the families of nations”.
Every Christian is called to be a peacemaker. For our Lord, Jesus Christ, is a peacemaker.
Follow the Prince of Peace
What shall we do as Christians? Christian peace-makers must recover their morale. Pray! Set an example as a community of peace and contribute to confident public debate in peace, building with a peaceful spirit. Every Christian is called to be a peacemaker. For our Lord, Jesus Christ, is a peacemaker. So, if we want to be God’s children and Christ’s disciples, we must imitate him – our Prince of Peace. Thankfully, we operate out of the peace he has already achieved for us. Praise be to God.