I recently wrote a blog entitled "Peace Of Mind Is Temporal, Peace With God Eternal", in which I pointed out that, in Scripture, "Grace" always precedes "Peace".
Today, I examine another aspect of PEACE. That is, "Peace with people". "IF it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." Rom.12:18. Four observations about this verse: (1) The big "IF" recognizes that "peace with all men" is next to impossible. (2) Though it is almost impossible, do the best you can to keep peace. (3) Peace with people is accomplished only in degrees ... "as much as (you are able) lieth IN YOU " not in them. (4) The Apostle was speaking to Christians not to the lost world. The only peace in this world "lieth in you " not in them. Grace accepted gives glory to God and that results in peace in the hearts of believers on earth.
"Peace with people" begs the question, "What if it is NOT possible ?" There are times when it is NOT possible.
In the above verse, the Apostle allowed for that probability but Jesus foretold its certainty. The peace that "lieth in you" is not shared by most of the world's population. That is why Jesus said something completely contrary to what most religionists believe, "Think not that I am come to send PEACE on earth: I came not to send PEACE, but a SWORD." Matt.10:34. What on earth did He mean by that ? When the heralding angels said, " On earth peace, Good will toward men", in Lk.2:14, they were saying "He who IS our peace, the Prince of Peace", has come down to earth, from God, with peace and good will toward all who will accept it." Earth has had a thousand wars since then so He didn't mean earthly peace but spiritual peace, inner peace, peace with God. Jesus knew that most people would not accept Him but would reject Him and thereby reject His peace and good will. The resulting conflict is the "sword" Jesus spoke of in the above verse. "The children of darkness" in conflict with "The children of light" . "For we wrestle ... against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Eph.6:12. The peace we Christians have in Christ and desire to share with the world is only available to those who accept Christ. Rejection of Christ results in rejection of Christians and enmity against both. Jesus said, "In me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation." Jn.16:33. This explains why Ecc.3:8 says, there is "a time of war and a time of peace".
The history in the Old Testament is a history of war between God's people Israel and pagan nations. That's not to say Israel was always right or in God's will. Even since Bible days, the history of man and the world is a history of war. Sometimes those wars were between equally evil powers, sometimes one or the other of opposing nations was more evil that the other. But also, some wars have been between darkness and light. Alexander the Great simply wanted to conquer everybody .... and pretty much did, but wept when there were no more worlds to conquer. Napoleon was similar. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, and Mao were far more evil than those they conquered.
God is not opposed to the sword in defence of liberty, justice and safety. He created Civil Law, in Gen.9:5-6, for that purpose. He expanded on that original civil law with the Commandments and Law of Moses. In the New Testament, Rom.13:1-7, the Apostle says Law Enforcement Officers are called of God as "Ministers of God" to deal with evil. "But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid: for he beareth not the SWORD in vain: for he is ... a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil."
Neither is God opposed to the sword in self defence. Jesus, himself, told his Apostles "He that hath no SWORD, let him sell his garment and buy one." Lk.22:36. To this, His Apostles answered that they had two swords." V.38. We are not surprised that Simon Peter had one of those swords. Shortly after that, in V.49, they saw Judas leading a mob of Chief Priests, Elders, and enforcers with sticks and stones to take Jesus by force. His disciples naturally asked Jesus if this was the time to use those two swords. "They said ... Lord, shall we smite with the sword ?" Simon Peter didn't wait for an answer. He quickly drew his sword and slashed down on the nearest of them. His target must have dodged because Peter's sword just missed the guys head and sliced off his ear . Jesus restrained Peter, healed the man's ear and said, "shall I not fulfill what my Father sent me here to do ... die for your sins?" Jn.18:11. Paraphrased.
The principle of self defence was endorsed by Jesus in Lk. 11:21, "When a strong man ARMED keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace." The law says a man's home is his castle and he has the right to defend it.
This same principle is established in our U.S. Constitution, Amendment #2 "A well-regulated militia (citizen soldiers) being necessary to the security of a free state, the RIGHT of THE PEOPLE (not just soldiers) to KEEP and BEAR ARMS." This amendment is plain, (1) The RIGHT to KEEP, have, possess ARMS. (2) To BEAR, carry ARMS. Anyone who can't understand this simple English as to what our Second Amendment means, google the founding fathers' words on the subject of arms and self defence. Our first President, George Washington was there and was one of the signers of the Constitution. He also, personally, bore arms and said, "A free people ought to be armed." Boston Independent Chronical - Jan.14, 1790.
Side Note: In the old West Texas town of Pecos, back during the 1800's frontier days, a cowboy had been arrested for murder. The Courtroom was full of the victim's family and a few Friends of the accused looking in the open windows. The Judge hammered the court into session and surveyed the audience for several minutes. Then he turned to the Sheriff and said, John, give the defendant a pistol. He's the onliest one in this courtroom without a weapon. That was Texas. In those days there was very little law in the towns and absolutely none in the vast distances of open country. With Indians, wild animals, rattelers and murderers roaming the country, your pistol or rifle WAS the law. Looks like all those wild animals, rattelers and murderers had wicked offspring who now live, rob, rape, steal and murder in the big cities of America. I'd rather wander the wild west any day than any big city you can name. RB