They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace’ when there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14).
God desires peace. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). He came to bring peace between man and God, between man and himself, and between man and his fellow man. We are to seek peace and pursue it. But how far should we pursue peace?
As forth-tellers, prophets often had the difficult job of reminding God’s people of the covenant that they had made with God. As fore-tellers, prophets often had the difficult job of warning the people of coming judgment due to their refusal to repent.
The weeping prophet, Jeremiah, was God’s messenger leading up to the Babylonian captivity. Judah’s sins were full, and their punishment was imminent. Jeremiah’s task was to speak God’s word to a nation who was dull of hearing and who would “fight against” him (Jeremiah 1:19). This task was a great burden to Jeremiah. He wished for deliverance, he tried to shut God’s words up within him and not speak (Jeremiah 20:8-9). But God was true to his promises to Jeremiah, he was with Jeremiah every step of the way (Jeremiah 1:19; 20:11).
While Jeremiah’s words were full of punishment and destruction, others proclaimed peace. False prophets promoted a fabricated peace. They acted as if the people had only small wounds, which needed only bandages. This pretend peace only made things worse. It gave false hope to those who needed to be confronted with their sin. The promise of these false prophets was a bane to Jeremiah but a deadly danger to the people.
Peace at any price is not true peace
Jesus, the Prince of Peace, came to bring division (Luke 12:51). The result of Jesus’ ministry would be divided families and friendships (Luke 12:52, 53; Matthew 10:21, 22). How can that be?
First, consider that without Jesus man is lost. Jesus did not come to condemn but to save (John 3:17; 12:47), for man was already condemned. Second, truth saves but it also divides. Not all will listen to Jesus, not all will be saved. In fact, most will reject Jesus (Matthew 7:12-14). What should we desire? That all be lost but be at peace with one another? Or that some be saved, but perhaps at the expense of certain relationships?
Truth is fundamental, peace is conditional
Truth is absolute and non-negotiable. Peace is conditioned upon truth, truth is not dependent upon peace. One can only have true peace with God by living a transformed life in accord with God’s will (John 14:23). We must recognize truth (John 17:17), and be changed by it.
Peace with others is also conditioned upon truth. Fellowship with others is rooted in our fellowship with God (1 John 1:3-10). If we walk in the light we have fellowship with God and with all those who are also in fellowship with God. The opposite of that would also hold true. Fellowship is not enjoyed by anyone who is not in fellowship with God.
True peace is not easy, but it is always worth the effort
The world promotes an appetizing peace that has no true substance. Jesus offers a peace that has a depth and a richness that changes lives forever (John 14:27). This peace requires self-denial, uncomfortable conversations, and perhaps even confrontations.
It should never be easy to confront or correct. But the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day should provide a caution to those who would promote peace at any cost. When judgment day comes, let it not be said of us that we comforted people with “peace” when there was no peace.