As we begin the New Year, you will likely be asked again and again, what would you like in 2016?
There are many things that may come to mind, but if you ask people at the far reaches of the world, and not just in Tooele Valley, you will likely find that a majority would like to have peace. They would like to have peace offered to them, instead of torment and upheaval invading their lives.
Without a doubt, 2015 was a year of much violence, from the vicious attacks of ISIS in the Middle East to the terrorist attacks in France to the multiple murders in San Bernardino by terrorists. On virtually every continent there are wars or horrific acts of terrorism. If you listen to the news, the vast majority of the people just want peace.
Obviously we do not have peace. But while there are those in the world who are bent on hurting and killing innocent people, most in the world do want peace. They are also grateful for the men and women in law enforcement and the military who are willing to put their lives on the line, which sometimes means laying down their lives, in an attempt to gain peace.
Think about that for a minute. In virtually every culture there are public displays of honor for those who are willing to give their lives in an attempt to attain peace. We honor them with medals and plaques, with moments of silence, and with statues. For those who have given their lives in the larger campaigns, we even have national holidays.
We recognize the courage and selflessness needed to do such things. We realize that such acts can be difficult, but that some people are willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of others.
Therefore, I find it a little strange that if we recognize people who are able and willing to sacrifice themselves to gain peace for others, why are so many people unwilling to accept that God is willing to sacrifice Himself in order to provide a way of peace for people? Seriously, if we accept that everyday people are able to die for others, why do so many refuse to believe that God is able, and more than willing, to do so?
To deny that God could or would do such a thing for you is, in effect, to place man’s willingness and ability to sacrifice himself above that of God. Why would you even begin to make such an argument?
In our country we send our soldiers to fight for peace. Certainly, over the centuries, the majority of soldiers, sailors and airmen have volunteered to go, but we send them; they do not simply go on their own. The same is true for God. He sent His Son, but His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, was willing to be sent. The difference being that Jesus came to fight for our peace, not His own.
Maybe that is why so many have a hard time believing that God would do that for us. In the wars of mankind, we fight because someone has taken our peace away, or they are threatening to do so. But in God’s case, He is at peace; you cannot take His peace away from Him. What we did through sin was to take away our own peace. God could have left us to the consequences of our sin, and it would not have diminished His peace one bit, but He did not. Why not?
The Bible makes that abundantly clear: God so loves you, loves all people, that He was willing to send His Son to live as one of us, and then to take our sin and our punishment on Himself on the cross, and then to die in our place, all this in order to satisfy the justice of God. (John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:21)
Again the question, if we can easily believe that people can do such things for us as lay down their lives, why should we be surprised that God would do the same for us? To me, it is not that we should be surprised at God’s willingness to fight for our peace, and to die to secure that peace. What should surprise us, what surprises me, is the unwillingness of so many to believe that God would, or that He did.
If you would like peace this year, particularly a peace that can never be taken from you, look at the promises God makes to you that you will find in the Bible. This year, I encourage you to choose peace. Choose Christ.
McCartney is pastor of First Baptist Church of Tooele.