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The peace that passes human understanding

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Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Primate of all Nigeria (Anglican Communion)

Introduction

Easter is a special time, when the Christian world celebrates the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ; the event that gives content, power and conviction to our Faith, making it uniquely different from other faiths.

Before Jesus’ Ascension, He assured His disciples of His peace that was different from the world’s peace. The kind of peace that is beyond human understanding, which comes only from God, secured for humanity by His death and resurrection.

Etymology: Literally, ‘peace’, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary of English, means “a state of tranquility or quiet: such as freedom from civil disturbance; a state of security or order within a community; freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions; harmony in personal relations; etc. But the biblical meaning of ‘peace’ is deeper, both in the Old and New Testament understanding.

The Old Testament word for peace, shalom means ‘completeness’, ‘well-being.’ It may mean material prosperity or physical safety, but it is more of spiritual well-being.

Such peace is often associated with holiness and righteousness, justice and truth. It is completely opposed to wickedness and injustice.

In New Testament Greek, eirene has the full content of the Old Testament shalom, and always carries spiritual connotation.

The scope is apparent from its linking with such words as grace, life, mercy, love, righteousness, and its use in the priestly liturgical benedictions. Peace is deeply theological.

Source of Chaos in the World: Since the chaos in the world is due to man’s sins, to redeem man and restore the peace that existed between humans and the Divine, the Messianic hope was given through Old Testament prophecies, hundreds of years before the incarnation of Jesus Christ. The Messianic hope was to be an age of peace.

This is what Jesus has accomplished by His sacrificial death and resurrection, and that is what Christians all over the world celebrate as Easter.

Chaos of Christ’s Arrest, Crucifixion and Death—A Reflection of the World’s Condition: Jesus was the great Prophet, Who had arisen, with whom there was no lack of either food or money.

There was no fear of death or sickness because He could heal and raise the dead. With Jesus, the disciples were safe as though in the heavenly Kingdom of God already.

The story, however, changed from the moment He was arrested, as the chaos in the world broke into their camp. From that time to the manifestation of the resurrected Jesus, they had their share of the chaos in the world.

It was so devastating that as two of the disciples walked down the road to Emmaus, talking about their confusion, the resurrected Jesus came and walked among them, talked with them about the things that had taken place, but they could not recognise Him.

God as the Source of True Peace: For man to have peace with his fellow-man, peace with God is the key. For sinful man, there must first be peace with God and the removal of sin’s enmity through the sacrifice of Christ.

Then, the inward peace can follow unhindered. True peace can only come from God and it starts from within a man’s heart and flows to others. True peace is not the product of legislation or human agreement; true peace is not forced but God possessing the hearts of men.

Nigeria, a Nation in Turmoil—We need the Peace of God: Our nation, no doubt, is in turmoil with so many issues rising, most of which have defied the capacity of our leaders. We need to reach out to God to give us His peace.

The problems of terrorism, herdsmen killings, kidnapping, embezzlement of public funds, child trafficking and ritual killings, among others, are all evidence of the absence of the peace of God. Yet, we profess faith in God.

Nigerians are yearning for peace. A life void of peace has lost its essence. But this peace is not in the Federal Executive Council, nor in the Senate or in the hand of anyone.

We need the peace of God that comes through Christ. For humans, peace is usually predicated on justice and fairness.

Conclusion:

The peace of God means restoring man to God, and restoring spiritual and physical well-being to man. However, we have an obligation to promote this peace.

Jesus said; “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16: 33).

Most Revd. Okoh is the Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)


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