Exploring Hope: Humanity’s dream

Have you ever noticed that history classes seem to focus almost exclusively on war? Yet we could never list every war in human history because there are simply too many. Violence and conflict have characterized humanity since the beginning. For this reason, peace has been called “humanity’s eternal, elusive dream.”

We see this “eternal, elusive dream” in the Bible’s storyline as well. You can read it in Genesis chapters 1-3. In the beginning, God created a beautiful world of perfect peace and a special place in that world called the Garden of Eden where he placed the first human beings, Adam and Eve. He created them to experience three kinds of peace.

First, he created them to experience inner peace. They were naked and not ashamed. They never felt anything like depression, fear, guilt, or anxiety. Second, he created them to experience peace with others. They had a perfect marriage where they communicated and loved each other sacrificially. There was no relational conflict at all. Third, he created them to experience peace with God. They never doubted his existence or love; they never had trouble praying or found worship boring. They had such a strong connection to God that his love was the consuming reality of their lives.

However, something terrible happened. They sinned against God and peace was shattered.

They lost their inner peace. They knew that they were naked — not just physically naked but spiritually and emotionally naked. Therefore, they sewed fig leaves together to cover their nakedness and shame.

They also lost peace with others. Adam and Eve began to blame each other for their failures. A chapter later, their son Cain murdered his brother Abel and the whole world was cast into violence and bloodshed. Worst of all, they lost peace with God. They hid from the presence of the Lord; they were ashamed to pray; they were separated from God and evicted from the Garden of Eden.

So Adam and Eve lost inner peace, peace with others, and peace with God, and the rest of human history has been a failed attempt to restore what was lost. World War I was called “the war to end all wars,” but it didn't work. Peace activists can make a difference for a while, but there's always another war. We have peace signs, peace rallies, peace talks, peace treaties, and peace pipes, but they never seem to work. Peace is indeed our eternal, elusive dream.

Thankfully, however, God promised to restore peace himself through a deliverer. The prophet Isaiah said that this deliverer would be called the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). When this prince was born 700 years later, the angels declared "peace on earth” (Luke 2:14). This Prince of Peace said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (John 14:27). According to the Bible, peace isn't an abstract idea; it's a person.

Jesus Christ lived in perfect peace for all eternity as the second person of the Trinity. But he willingly set aside that peace for us as he took a true human nature and was born of a virgin 2000 years ago. He entered into the conflict and pain of the world to save us. He lost inner peace as he wept for Lazarus and sweated blood in the garden of Gethsemane. Even though he was perfect, he lost peace with others as he was hated, mocked, and crucified. Worst of all, he lost peace with God as he took all our sins upon himself and bore the penalty we deserve. He did all of this — not for himself — but for you and me so that we can have inner peace, peace with others, and peace with God.

The Apostle Paul says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1–2). Jesus is the key to our “eternal, elusive dream.”

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About Will Stern

Originally from Colorado, Will Stern is the pastor of Hope Presbyterian Church in Garnet Valley. He majored in violin performance for his undergrad and taught violin for a number of years before being called into ministry. He studied theology at Duke University and Westminster Theological Seminary.

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