Romans 5:1 – Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
As we look at and read that one short verse our eyes and ears tend to focus on that phrase in the very center of the verse, "peace with God." As we approach Christmas that little word peace brings to mind what the angel said to the shepherds, "and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
I have only been here in Sleepy Eye five months, and I didn’t know him all that well, but from all the things that I heard about him, I would guess that he enjoyed Christmas. I would guess that he was a man who enjoyed peace.
Many of you know far better than I do how he enjoyed giving gifts to his family, and not just giving the gift but presenting the gift in a unique way. I was told that once he brought home a mule as a gift and then put one of his sons on that mule and led it back and forth in front of the window until his wife realized that something strange was going on outside. That mule’s name, by the way, was Beulah. Who else but a man of peace would name his mule Beulah? The name Beulah, after all, is the name Isaiah uses for the new Zion, the heavenly Zion, certainly a place of peace.
And you know better than I do how he also enjoyed being with other people, whether it was at a party or playing cards or a best of all at a card party. We also know how he helped in the community and best of all how he served his Christian brothers and sisters in this church. This man who always enjoyed telling a joke and could often come up with a quick one liner out of left field cherished the relationships he had with other people and cherished the peace in those relationships. He would much rather be your friend than your enemy.
Yet we live in a sinful world and I’m sure that sometimes there wasn’t peace in those relationships. I know that there was discord in this church and among families in this church at one time that still causes relationships to be strained. I know that when you have kids there isn’t always peace in the house. Sometimes the ideas kids have clash with their parents, but sometimes kids just make a lot of noise in the house. Sometimes even between husband and wife there is a lack of peace. Just in the short time I’ve been here I have seen the love he and his wife had for each other, but do you think there was peace in the house when she found the goat that he put in the bathtub? After all, to the men out there, what would your wife say if you put a goat in the bathtub for her to find?
There was also time in his life when there was no peace between him and God. The same is true for the rest of us. The truth is that at one point we were all at war with God. There’s still evidence of it. If we think, while we’re listening to God’s Word in this sermon or somewhere else, "this is boring," or "what does this have to do with me?" When we fail to take time to hear what God has to say, then we are at war with God. God wants us to hear what he has to say.
But when he was baptized, Jesus Christ stepped in between him and God and made peace. This is the peace that the angels spoke about to the shepherds and this is the peace that Paul wrote about to the Christians in Rome. "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." This is the peace that we have because Jesus Christ came to this earth on that first Christmas and lived a perfect life in our place and suffered the punishment we deserved for all of our conflicts with God.
He understood this peace that he had with God. No matter what other conflicts he may have had in his life, he had peace with God. Now he no longer suffers with any of the conflicts he may have had on this earth, but he enjoys peace in his relationship with God. What about us? As we also trust that Jesus Christ has made peace between us and God, then we too enjoy that peace with God now, and someday we will enjoy that perfect peace in heaven forever. If you enjoyed getting together with him and playing cards or just sitting and talking, just wait until you are able to get together with him again in heaven. That group of believers in heaven will be a never-ending gathering of close friends in perfect peace.