This week we are continuing our examination of true peace. Last week we determined that there is no true peace for the person who does not meet God’s standards of righteousness. Having a right relationship with God is the way to have peace with God and that’s the starting point. But this week I want to figure out what it looks like to have the peace of God.
So what does it mean to have the peace of God? Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. (Eleventh edition) defines peace as:
1. A state of tranquillity or quiet.
2. Freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.
3. Harmony in personal relations.
4. A pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity.
That’s a pretty good synopsis of what peace is. Now let’s look at how the Bible presents peace in each of these contexts.
A state of tranquility or quiet:
And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:36–40, ESV)
A relentless gale, a tiny boat, a recipe for disaster. Yet in the midst of all of the chaos we see a picture of perfect tranquility – Jesus asleep in the back of the boat. He wasn’t worried in the least. In fact, the disciples had to wake him up to clue him in to the danger they were facing. “Teacher, do you not care about us? Do you not see that we are in grave danger? Are you not going to do anything so that we die in this storm?” In Jesus’ response we see a second picture of perfect tranquility – he turned that stormy sea into a sea of glass.
Could this be a metaphor for life? I think Jesus was demonstrating for his disciples what he would share with them later on – “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, ESV) Life can become stormy at times, and often at a moment’s notice. Sometimes it feels like we’re just along for the ride as events start spinning out of control. And when it happens, we can learn from the disciples’ example and cry out to the One who can calm the storm. Even though He may not still the waves, he will steady the boat – and the hearts of those in it.
Freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions:
Worry. I would wager that it is a malady that affects almost every single person on the face of the earth at some point. Without a doubt it is the number one enemy of peace.
One cause for worry I have seen is that sometimes we get our priorities out of whack. Spending valuable time chasing after things that don’t have any real long-term significance causes us to put the important things on the back burner. That can lead to guilt and internal strife. Jesus has a remedy for the worry that comes from misplaced priorities:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:25–34, ESV)
In other words, concentrate on the major things in life, keep the minor stuff minor and let God take care it.
Not only can our hearts be disquieted from concentrating on the wrong things, but also by concentrating on the bad things. It’s easy to get into the “what if” mentality – “What if my car breaks down or what if I get sick or what of I run out of money?” We can literally worry ourselves sick over things that may never happen. We can also worry about things over which we have no control and situations for which we see no solution. But honestly, does it do any good to worry? Paul told the Philippians it didn’t:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6–7, NASB95)
Whatever has you out of sorts, take it to God. He will hear and respond and the interaction with Him will put things back into the proper perspective.
Harmony in personal relations:
I believe that a lot of conflict that we have with other people is an offshoot of the conflict that we find within ourselves. If we have tranquility in our spirits from relying on Jesus and have our priorities correct, it makes it a lot easier to get along with people. The Apostle Paul understood this and made sure that all of the churches to which he wrote understood it too. He includes the words grace and peace in the salutations of every one of his epistles and in all but one he includes the words “from God.” It works like this: The grace from God grants us peace with God and being at peace with him, he gives us his peace. If we let his peace rule in our hearts (Colossians 3:15), we extend peace to those around us. The peace of God enables us and requires us to minimize the conflict between us and everyone else:
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17–21, NASB95)
A pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity:
Even though it’s the last definition in the list, as we have already seen, it’s really the first thing. I think it bears repeating, if you have read this far and long for peace with God you can you can have it today
The peace of God. It’s a wonderful thing.
Father, thank you again for your peace. I know that you are my lifeline, the One to whom I turn when life gets stormy. Help me to bring all things to you, depend on you for all things and extend your peace to everyone I know.