The world is broken. It is everywhere filled with hatred, violence, avarice, and exploitation. By God’s grace, in the midst of all the conflict there is still a great amount of charity, but it is nonetheless clear that the human family is utterly dysfunctional. We want rest from the malice, rest from the warring. We want peace on earth.
And peace is coming. But many who clamor for world peace might not like it when it gets here.
At root, the enmity among human beings is caused by a dysfunctional relationship with God, our Creator. The cause of our hostility towards our human neighbors is our hostility to God. Apart from the fear of God, there is no fear of mistreating others. But God will not tolerate such hostility (both against him and against his creatures) forever. He will restore this world and bring about an everlasting era of world peace. When that is fully implemented, the world will have rest, will be in harmony, will be united, and our conduct will be driven fully by love.
The initial stages of this world peace have already been set in motion, as God makes inroads into the lives of people on an individual basis. As God changes hearts, causes people to fear him, to love him, and to be made aware of the who he is, they become part of a worldwide family known by its mutual love. Some day, though, God will bring peace in its completeness, and all the infighting, the animosity and bloodshed, will be stopped. God will impose peace upon the human race.
Maintaining peace among unruly creatures like ourselves, though, requires a strong hand, and no hand is as strong as that of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. When he comes back, he will put a stop to all injustice and will begin a reign of peace that will never end. The prophet Isaiah tells us what we can expect of the rule of Christ:
Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
The enemies of God are also the enemies of mankind. And Jesus, the conquering King, will subdue them. He can do this in two ways. Either he can persuade people by an internal work of his Spirit in their hearts and minds which changes their attitude, helps them to understand reality, and draws them by his love to love him in return, giving them a new outlook and a renewed character. Or, he can destroy them. He will use both methods. He came once not to condemn the world, but to save it, one person at a time. “For if anyone is in Christ,” says the Apostle Paul, “the new creation has come” (2Co 5:17), meaning that when a person is united to Christ through faith, the new creation is expanded, the new creation is being rolled out right under our noses. When Jesus comes the second time, he will come not in humility but “with power and great glory” (Mt 24:30) for “he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead” (Ac 10:42). The results of Christ’s first advent work are still being brought to fruition. It is a long process that is the outworking of the “punishment that brought us peace” that he endured on our behalf. It is a process carried out, not by coercion or threats (Jn 18:36, 2Co 10:4), but by love and persuasion (1Co 16:14, Ac 28:23, 2Co 5:11), and the work of the Holy Spirit. When Christ comes the second time, things will play out much more quickly, and people will not be able to ignore him as they do now. Christ will come and resurrect his people, then will destroy all the opposing authorities and social structures that stand against a peaceful world, and hand the kingdom to God the Father (1Co 15:23, 24). There will be no negotiations (Ps 2).
Constitutional democracy is the best way for human beings to deal with conflicting interests in a civilized manner, but it does not bring long-lasting peace. With Jesus there is no democracy, nor any need for it. World peace will not become a reality by means of people working out their differences, but by God’s subduing of all people into submission to himself, so that their affections are restored, their desires pointed in the right direction and therefore in the same direction! (People in love with God have no irreconcilable differences.) Jesus does not take opinion polls or cater to the whims of his constituents. He serves his constituents by giving them every blessing they lack, in ways they would never have realized they needed and never would have asked for. He knows what is best. People submitted to the Kingship of Christ will he truly happy. For those who do not submit to Christ, however, he will bring swift destruction. He is King! This is what kings do. To them he is not a diplomat. He is coming again to bring a lasting, unassailable peace on earth. It will be perfect, unquestioned, and absolute. It will be wonderful, because Jesus will rule with perfect love and justice.
Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:8–10)
For those who know God and obey the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, this is a great hope, and we are eager for it. We long to see the world made right and humanity healed. People often ask how there can be so much evil in a world governed by a loving and almighty God. There are no easy answers to this, but it is partially because because God is slow to anger. He is withholding final judgment (though not all judgment) for a later time, which means that until then, evil is allowed to inflict the world with its miseries. He is allowing sinners a “day of salvation” during which they might repent and be saved and enter into the Lord’s joy. But eventually, God will reconcile all things to himself. The strife will not continue indefinitely.
Those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel cannot be welcome in a world where all strife is done away with and only love remains, where God is worshiped and our love for one another is an expression of our spiritual worship. For many, the idea of the absolute rule of Jesus makes them recoil rather than rejoice. They do not hope for world peace, but hope to continue undisturbed in their denial of the gospel, which is the cause of all animosity and hostility. But Jesus is coming anyway, and bringing world peace with him. Today, the God of peace is calling everyone to take part in the peace of God.