“He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from Him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.”
Ephesians 2:17-18 NLT
The Good News, the Gospel of Peace, is not just a few words written on a piece of paper, to be read and then forgotten. It is not a Peace Treaty signed by two generals after a period of war and strife. It is not just a nice sentiment, bringing with it warm feelings of brotherhood and friendliness. No! the Good News of Peace is far more than that. For a start it is eternal. It’s message reverberates up and down the centuries of history. It is the supernatural “glue” that welds together all God’s people, powered by the Holy Spirit. The Good News of Peace binds together people everywhere, regardless of race, skin colour, language and location.
Peace between God’s people is not an option. There is no sectarianism allowed before God. Jesus was concerned by a lack of peace even in His own people, the Jews. In Matthew 5, in His Sermon on the Mount, He taught about the importance of having peaceful and righteous relationships. If we wish to enter into God’s presence we need to have right attitudes to our brothers and sisters in the faith. The Holy Spirit is displaced in an angry and unforgiving heart, removing the option of coming before the Father.
It is hard for a modern pilgrim to find a place of peace. A place where there is no strife but instead love and unity between them and others. What we say can easily be misinterpreted, leading to disagreements and a lack of peace. We have to season our relationships with grace, keep short accounts, resolve differences, and move on. Step by step in our life-pilgrimage. The writer to the Hebrews said, “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone…” (Hebrews 12:14). Wise advice indeed.
“I have not kept the good news of Your justice hidden in my heart; I have talked about Your faithfulness and saving power. I have told everyone in the great assembly of Your unfailing love and faithfulness.”
Psalms 40:10 NLT
David, the Psalmist behind Psalm 40, never hid his relationship with his loving Heavenly Father from the people around him. He always communicated things about God – His justice, faithfulness, saving power, unfailing love – to those around him in the “great assembly”, as we can see from this verse. These were things about God that he had experienced through a life spent close to God. That is not to say he was perfect and never sinned (Bathsheba?) or made mistakes but his heart was after God all his life. And so, David told people around him all the things he knew about God. He was a natural evangelist.
As a Christian I have a story to tell. Through the things God has done for me, my faith in Him has grown. I have experienced His grace and mercy, His love and kindness, His faithfulness even when I haven’t been faithful. He has put a hope for the future in my heart so real and pressing that it is bursting out to inform others.
But this “great assembly”. Is it the church we attend? It could be, but God’s heart is for the lost. Luke records this verse in his Gospel, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who do not need to repent” – Luke 15:7. C.S Lewis said, “The salvation of a single soul is more important than the production or preservation of all the epics and tragedies in the world“. So the “great assembly” consists of our friends, family, and community, not just the church we attend. We may not be Billy Grahams, speaking to thousands in one rally after another. But I am, as the quotation from J.T.Hiles says, “a beggar telling another beggar where to find bread“.
So, like David, we must take every opportunity to tell others the “good news” about God. May we never be guilty of keeping it to ourselves.