When we think of peace coming to our world today, most people imagine the war in Iraq coming to a harmonious end and all other disputes ceasing. Visions of little bunnies frolicking through fields of daisies ensue, and somewhere against the happy bunnies, we find ourselves lying in a hammock sipping a cold glass of lemonade.
Reality check. What is peace? In Isaiah 9:6, the coming of Christ is predicted, hailing Him, among others titles, as the “Prince of Peace.” But in His reign here on earth, He told the disciples something that seems to strictly contradict that title: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). Yet throughout the New Testament, we are told that Christ is our peace and that only by keeping our hearts and minds fixed on Him can we have true peace. So what was He thinking when He made this statement?
Unlike other gods, Jesus doesn’t promise to bring perfect harmony to this present world. He is a God of controversy and debate; He not only demands that you believe in Him and reject all other gods, but that you reject anyone or anything that is more important to you than His Lordship, following Him undividedly. Discipleship with Christ will bring scorn and scoffing from the world, turning mother against son and father against daughter, as He goes on to explain later in Matthew 10.
Yet discipleship with Christ brings an inner peace—a soundness of mind and spirit—that can be found nowhere else. Discipleship with Him should also result in peaceful relationships with fellow Christians, according to Colossians 3:15. But following Christ will never bring about peace between Christians and the world.
In the movie Miss Congeniality, pageant participants like the ditzy Gracie Lou Freebush campaign their wishes for world peace. Little old ladies wearing black dresses stand on street corners mourning the lives of dead soldiers and pray for a peaceful end to all wars. But all these wishes for world peace are less productive than pennies thrown into fountains at the mall, for the birth pangs of this world will only grow rasher until the end.
For now, Christ uses His dividing sword to sever the believer from anything that would separate him from discipleship. True peace can be in the depths of the believer and emanated through the sound manner in which he lives among other believers. True peace will be in heaven. True peace will be on this earth someday when Christ banishes Satan from it. But for now, “world peace” is unattainable.