The word “peace” means different things to different people. To some idealists, peace is a society where everyone is equal. Hermits think peace is being left alone. Still others simply see peace as a life in which everyone just gets along. Understanding human nature, that’s a pretty tall order.
Is peace dictated merely the alteration of our outward circumstances? Biblically speaking, no. Peace begins within.
Have you ever seen this?
No God, no peace.
Know God, know peace.
It’s catchy. Kinda like “WWJD” and “God said it, I believe it, that settles it” (but don’t get me started on that one). There is Bible truth in those two brief lines, though.
“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 ESV)
Before we can experience the “peace of God,” we must have “peace with God.” There are common graces which God bestows upon everyone:
” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”(Matthew 5:44-45 ESV)
Rain, sunshine, a beating heart, oxygen, the beauties of creation, love of family…these are all good gifts which are given to every person, regardless of their relationship with their Creator. They are extended by His loving hand and through His generous grace. However, there are other privileges and gifts that are given solely unto those who have a relationship with Him.
Contrary to popular belief, we are not born children of God. We must acknowledge that the main source of turmoil in our lives is our own sin, and that we need Him. We must be adopted into God’s family (click here to find out how).
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12, 13 ESV)
See, my kids may have friends they bring home often, about whom I might say, “He/she is like my own child.” It’s not literally true, and when it comes down to it, I really have no obligation to provide for that child, to feed him or care for his needs in any way. I do so out of kindness.
However, I do have an obligation my children. They receive my special care and attention. I love them to a different degree than I do others.
So, if your life is full of tumult and there seems to be unrest at every hand, the first question to ask yourself is whether you belong to Him.
Now we can talk about the “peace of God,” which is an invaluable treasure to the Christian.
My husband spoke on this verse a week or so ago at church:
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.(Philippians 4:7 ESV)
This is the peace OF God…it is His peace. Stop and think about that. This is His “brand” of peace, so to speak. It is the peace that can take a churned up sea and instantaneously make it smooth as glass with a word.
I imagine this is the atmosphere of Heaven. There are no tears, no sorrow, no crying, no sin…all the things which result in unrest here will be erased there, entirely. God is sovereign, knows all, and sees all. There are no surprises for Him. Peace is who He is! When we are walking in fellowship with Him, the peace of His presence can embrace us as well. It “surpasses understanding”…it transcends what we can comprehend. Have you ever experienced this?
I remember one occasion when God’s peace was especially tangible in my life. When our first child was born, there were some complications which required that I be wheeled out to surgery instead of getting to hold our newborn child and enjoy those wonderful first moments that all new parents look forward to. I don’t remember any fear at all. I don’t even remember feeling distraught that I was being removed from the birthing room so quickly. I remember conversing with the doctors as they hastily attempted reparations and tried to prevent a life threatening blood loss. It was hindsight which made me realize this was the “peace of God”. The OB came into my room the next day, held out his hand for mine, silently turned mine over so that it was palm-up and pressed his thumb into the center. There was no change in the pigmentation of my skin. Then he performed the same action with his own palm, and the temporary white thumb print quickly regained its rosy hue. He looked at me gravely and said, “We could have lost you.” His demeanor was almost reproachful, as if I should have been more upset…especially while everything was seemingly spinning out of control. I tried to share my faith. He simply could not see it. Perhaps his mind was clouded with the possibilities and liabilities of it all, I don’t know. I do know that event strengthened my faith.
We should not push away trials. Christian, do you see how trials give us an arena in which we can testify of our faith in God? They allow us to point to Him as the reason we can keep our moorings in such a humanly inexplicable manner.
Trials allow us to demonstrate how “peculiar” we are. 😉 Anyone can be at rest when the bills are paid, health is good, the children are behaving, and relationships are on an even keel. Trials give us an opportunity to be purified and to shine brighter than ever before.
Finally, I would exhort you with this. Biblical peace is not a passive thing. We don’t get “bonked” on the head with it, once we are saved. As we grow in grace, learning to “put on” (Col. 3:10-14) our new identity in Christ, the peace increases…because we know Him, we trust Him more.
As we learn to renew our minds (that is, re-educate them not to come to their own conclusions, but to seek God’s thinking on each matter), our hearts become calmer.
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” (Col. 3:15)
Through prayer, studying His word, and meditating upon it, we invite peace into our hearts. It is no wonder that the following verse says:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Peace is not passive. It is the outgrowth of a deliberate life of worship.
Are you getting splashed in the face with sea water? A little sea sick? Are the swells so high that the bow of your little boat is pointed toward the boiling clouds above? Will you still worship Him?
Sometimes the children’s songs capture doctrine in a surprisingly simple way:
With Christ in the vessel, we can smile at the storm,
Smile at the storm, smile at the storm,
With Christ in the vessel, we can smile at the storm,
As we go sailing home …