Today’s world is not a peaceful place. Wars, rumors of wars, rioting, brutality, oppression, and unrest plague the whole earth. Fears fill our minds, confusing and contradictory information comes at us from every side, and there’s always a new reason in the news for anger, anxiety, or grief. If we ever needed proof that there’s no peace on earth, this past year supplied it.
In the midst of all this, the Bible describes peace as something God gives to His people and which He expects us to have. Finding peace while here on this earth may seem an impossible task, but God specializes in doing the impossible (Luke 1:37; 18:27). The peace God offers is not dependent on external circumstances. It comes from what He is doing inside us and it’s a special type of peace that is only available through God.
Putting Peace in our Minds
The peace God offers us cannot be destroyed by what’s going on in the world. Also, thankfully, it is a type of peace that we can have even during times of trouble and strife–the sort of times when we most need peace.
Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7, NET
Paul doesn’t tell us that God will take away any reason we might have for anxiety. Rather, he says not to worry about any of the situations that could cause anxiety. Instead, we take those situations to God in prayer and with thanksgiving. We can do this with confidence in the promise that God’s peace–a peace so incredible we can’t understand it, yet which we still get to participate in–will guard our hearts and minds. God doesn’t just take away anxiety and give us peace, though, without any action on our part. We have a role to play as well. In addition to praying for God’s peace, Paul also tells us to replace our anxious thoughts with something else.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. And what you learned and received and heard and saw in me, do these things. And the God of peace will be with you.Philippians 4:8-9, NET
We have the power to change how we think and even how we feel. We are not at the mercy of our outside circumstances or even our own emotions. That’s true of all human beings. Everyone of us can change and improve the way we think and process emotion. And when we have God’s spirit, we have additional aid in finding real peace. God created us and He knows how to balance and heal our minds, hearts, and souls.
Pursuing Righteousness and Peace
I recently heard a sermon where the speaker talked about the deep connection between righteousness and peace. He started by quoting Psalm 85:10, “Righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (WEB). It’s part of the verse I used as the title of my post about INFJ Christians, but I hadn’t realized how often these two concepts are linked. It seems you can’t have the type of peace God offers without also seeking to imitate His righteousness.
I am Yahweh your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way that you should go. Oh that you had listened to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.Isaiah 48:17-18,. WEB
Righteousness and peace must be pursued together (2 Tim. 2:22). The type of peace God offers is only found in relationship with Him, and we can’t have a close relationship with God if we insist on living unrighteous lives. We need to follow His steps, heed His words, and embrace both His righteousness and His peace.
For the kingdom of God does not consist of food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. For the one who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by people. So then, let us pursue what makes for peace and for building up one another.Romans 14:17-19, NET
Bearing the Fruit of Peace
Many (perhaps most) of us saw 2020 as a year of severe trails. One of the ways the Bible talks about trials is as discipline–a tool God uses to disciple us into being like Him. Interestingly, this process is not only connected to learning to be righteous as God is righteous. It’s also connected to peace.
Now all discipline seems painful at the time, not joyful. But later it produces the fruit of peace and righteousness for those trained by it.Hebrews 12:11, NET
Times of trial are often when peace seems most elusive, but when we go through our trials with God at our side they can actually lead to peace. Several Bible verses tell us to have joy in trials (Rom. 5:3-5; James 1:2-4), and I think recognizing how much we can learn from them is one key to having that sort of joyful perspective. Challenges help to refine us, and eventually produce good fruits in our lives.
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and not hypocritical. And the fruit that consists of righteousness is planted in peace among those who make peace.James 3:17-18, NET
We spent a couple of months earlier this year talking about all these attributes of Godly wisdom, including peace. In that post, we talked about Proverbs and how that book shows us that peace is something which happens when you live with wisdom. It’s one of the fruits that comes from aligning with God’s righteousness.
There is a way to have peace inside us even while living in a world where there is no peace. None of us knows what the year 2021 holds in store. It could be better than 2020, it could be more of the same, or it could even be worse. The outside circumstances cannot take away our peace, though, when that peace is grounded in our relationship with God.
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