Consider the relevance of this: We are called to live holy lives, not to merit God’s favor but to be like him, to grow in godliness, to mature in Christlikeness. As such, to live our lives in holiness is not a burden of conformity but a family trait to be embraced and enjoyed. What is even more extraordinary about this is that our holy God calls us saints, even now, even as we wrestle with our sinful flesh, even as we are on this side of eternal life. We are saints of God, because of God’s grace alone through faith in Christ to the glory of God alone.
Therefore, Christ has not commissioned us to do something we should not or that we cannot do. Rather, he has given us both the authority, through his Word, and the power, through his Spirit, to take the gospel to our neighbor and the nations, confidently pronouncing the forgiveness of sin that is found in Christ alone. And this is not a commission for some but for all of us, according to our gifting and calling. Some are called to go to other countries to different people with different languages. Some are called to serve here, continuing to make and mature disciples, administer the sacraments, and preach the Word. But all of us are called to pray for and support the ministry of the church, in her going, sending, and equipping, which we do in the authority and power of Christ Jesus our Lord, who is with us always, to the end of the age.
As God promised, so he provided, giving “His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NASB). In Christ, he has given us his abiding peace through the provision of his Spirit. In Christ, he has given us his means of grace abiding in his peace. In Christ, he has prepared his kingdom that we may know eternal peace.
The result is “the bond of peace” or “the bond which consists of peace,” (O’Brien, 280), meaning unity in the body is evidenced in peace. Such peace is telling of the peace that every Christian enjoys with God the Father through God the Son by God the Holy Spirit. Just as there is unity in God, so there should be unity in his body, as it is manifested in the local church.
Are we really supposed to pray about everything? Don’t divorce this word from the context. Contextually, “everything” means: If it is a matter that tempts you to worry, that makes you anxious, then it must be a matter of prayer. Pray about these things.
In other words, maintaining peace in the local church is not a cause to fight for but an act of worshipful service to our Triune God. As we live out our faith in Christ in the local church “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,” the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” is revealed.
In an age which has a low view of the church, this may sound startling. Yet, it is to the church that Christ has given his commission, commands, and keys. It is in and through the church that God matures, his children with his promises and presence.
How certain can we be that this heavenly peace is ours forever? Such certainty is rooted in the sovereign grace of God who foreordained our salvation effectually calling us, justifying us, and one day glorifying us for eternity (Rom. 8:29-30).
For those who are in Christ, we are all of these as the pure-hearted, peacemaking persecuted. For Christ to us is more precious than life itself.