Peace can be a difficult word to define, especially the peace that the bible refers to. Just as we saw last week that ‘joy’ is so much more than just happiness, peace also goes so much deeper than simply an “absence of conflict”. I don’t know what comes to your mind when you think about peaceful people: I find my mind thinking about starry-eyed, drug- fuelled hippies out of the 70’s with flowers in their hair, floating through life: Or Tibetan monks sitting cross-legged meditating on top of a mountain. But do we really need to “escape” in order to obtain peace? If this is what is required, then for most of us it is unachievable. We have responsibilities, we live in the real world; running away to pursue a life of peace and tranquillity is not an option. True peace does not appear when we run away from all distractions. On the contrary-it comes from within, in the midst of turmoil.
Anxiety is the opposite of peace but it can easily be our default emotion. Anxiety, worry and debilitating fear are part of our old life before we were saved, but the attitudes of our old life can easily take over if we let them. Jesus knows full well that we will have troubles; He made us and He knows our struggles and He knows how much the world wants to cause us trouble, especially if we are devoted to and following Him:
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)
There are many references to peace in the bible. It is understandable why peace is one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit given that the bible calls God ‘the God of peace’ in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, and Jesus the ‘Prince of peace’ in Isaiah 9:6.
Let’s be practical now and look at the three areas we need to be peaceful in. These lists are liberally sprinkled with bible verses and they are in priority order of importance:
(1) Peace with God
The peace that Jesus gives brings us peace with God:
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”. (Romans 5:1)
How do we keep this peace and let the fruit flourish in our lives?
- Keeping our minds set on God:
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you”. (Isaiah 26:3)
- Loving God’s word, and keeping His commandments:
“Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble”. (Psalm 119:165)
“Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea”. (Isaiah 48:18)
- Being diligent in prayer:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
- Filling our minds with spiritual thoughts:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practise these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6)
(2) Peace with Others
Peace with God automatically leads to pursuing peace with others. God loves people and it follows that if we are to follow Him we will want to pursue a peaceful existence with His children. Making peace with God gives us the peace within which helps us to be in a better position to make peace with others!
“ For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility”. (Ephesians 2:14)
Where there once was division and strife with others, God has now brought harmony and peace.
- A concentrated effort to “pursue” peace.
“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer.” (1 Peter 3:8-12)
(3) Peace within ourselves
When Jesus brings us peace with God and man, peace within naturally follows!
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)
We must get the order right because we will never experience true peace until we have peace with God. The world starts on the inside and works itself out but that never provides peace. If we do that, the only peace we get will depend on our circumstances and that peace is only temporary.
As Christians we can glorify God by resting in Him and showing the world that even through the most trying circumstances, true and lasting peace only comes from God.
“God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” (CS Lewis)