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Peace On Earth?
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What are the two words you'll hear more often than any others in the Middle East? In Egypt, it's Salaam, meaning peace. The typical Muslim greeting is Salaam allekum, which means "peace to you." Christians use the same phrase, but with a shade of difference say Salaam ma'akum, "peace with you." The Israelis say Shalom, a biblical word meaning "peace, prosperity, well-being, and wholeness." It's used in greeting and in saying goodbye.

Peace is hard to come by these days in this part of the world. Violence and destruction are daily occurrences. The best efforts of politicians and military leaders seem only to complicate the process. As I share these thoughts, I'm once again in Egypt, and near the volcanic events in Israel and Palestine. It seems so strange to me that the world can be a virtual paradise if humans could just learn to live and let live. The beauty that surrounds us, the peace and tranquility, the niceties of service, and the flowing of the water toward the sea---all seem so quiet. It makes us forget, for a while, the problems created by the deadly spiral of violence.

Paul taught that true peace is an act of spiritual transformation, brought about by reconciliation with God. Ephesians 2:11-17 gives us a clear picture of God's plan for peace on earth.

First, Paul reminds us that we were "without Christ, and aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise."

Second, we "were without hope and without God in the world." I can't imagine a much more lost state than to be isolated from the very provisions of God for salvation and well-being in this life.

Third, Paul indicates that those who "were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace."

Finally, Paul declares that Christ has broken down the dividing wall of separation and hostility between Gentile and Jew "that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace."

Does that sound too good to be true? It's the glorious reality that Christ brought. In his final days with his followers he said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give it to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid" (John 17:27).

Let's go out today and demonstrate the peace of God. Let's be peacemakers, not troublemakers. Let's try to end the hostility between neighbors, strangers, and nations. And, above all else, let's have peace within our homes and with those nearest to us. If we have peaceful sanctuaries in our own homes and communities, we can go out to face a hostile world and be instruments of God's peace.



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