In the world that we live in one of the things that seems to be so elusive to us is peace. I mean we live in a world where it seems that drama and chaos is everywhere and none of us is immune to being caught up in its grasp. Even when we try not to be involved it seems to pull us in. Drama seems to have become the pastime of our modern culture. I mean just look at any magazine lining the counters of your local grocery and you see nothing but celebrity drama or look on at the national or even local news and it if full of political drama. Our social media pages are full of other people’s drama and then there is the drama that we live through everyday. Drama on our job where one person is talking about another person, or one person is working harder at hooking up with someone than they are doing their job. There is drama with our children and drama among our own family. Drama is nothing but chaos on display and it seems that it is everywhere. Even in the church we see drama, division, and people that seems to be against one another. But is this what Jesus meant for us as Christians? I mean is drama just something that we have to deal with in our day and time?
Peace is something that we seem to want. I mean we try to capture it from time to time. I mean we spend money and time going on vacations to the beach or to the mountain for just a moment of peace, and we even talk about how great it is to have moments of peace in our lives. Here is the thing; I do not believe this is what Jesus meant when He says “My Peace I give to you” (John 14:27). I think Jesus wanted us to have more than just moments of peace that go as soon as we come off vacation and only return to us on the next trip we take. I think that there is a state of peace that we can live in as Christians. There is a state of peace that comes to us from God and God alone.
The first thing that we have to understand is what peace really is. In the English peace is the freedom from disturbance and that seems to be a great place to live but the Biblical meaning has a deeper and fuller meaning to us. In the Greek the world is eirēnē but the Biblical concept of peas is larger than that and rest heavily on the Hebrew root slm, which means “to be complete” or “to be sound”. See in the Hebrew peace had a much deeper meaning as it applied to every area of ones life. There was peace in the wholeness of the body, or our health. There was peace in relationship that each person that you had relationship with you had a harmonies relationship with through a covenant that you had with God. Peace was over your prosperity, not to make you rich but rather to make you content with what you had, and finally peace over your enemies in that God gave you victory. The Hebrew concept of peace believed that it could only come to us through God. That God is peace and without God there is no real peace to be had in our life.
This is something that New Testament build upon and is something that Paul shares with the church of Philippi in chapter four of Philippians. In verses 4-9 Paul gives us the receipt for what it takes to have peace in our lives. So what does he says, how do we have peace in our life?
- Rejoice and again I say rejoice
The first thing that Paul shares with us is that we have to learn how to rejoice. The word rejoice comes from the root word that is used for both Joy, and Grace in the New Testament. God’s grace gives us joy and joy causes us to have the ability to rejoice and therefore we can rejoice no matter what state we find ourselves in. The first step of obtaining the peace of God is that we learn to rejoice. We remember that we are saved and kept by God’s grace and His grace is abundant and it gives us joy that allows us to walk in the strength of God.
- Change your Attitude
Paul says in verse 5 that we should “let our forbearance be known by all men”. The word forbearance there means merciful spirit, gentle, and kind. So how does this bring peace in my life? As Christians we are suppose to be kind, merciful, and gentle with all people and this is what we should be known for. Many times we do not have peace because of the attitude in which we deal with people with. We have to change our attitude if we are going to obtain peace in our life. Peace cannot come when we have an attitude that is contrary to that which we are called to have as Christians. Paul is telling us that our attitude has a great effect on us obtaining the peace of God for our lives.
- We have to learn not to worry
Now for me this is one that I have to work on in my life because I like most people am prone to worry about things. Many times in my life I find that I worry about things that I have absolutely no control over and many times things that have yet or will not even happen in my life. I find that worry is a habit and it is something that adds nothing to our life at all. Worry is the opposite of having faith in God, and here Paul says that if we are going to have the peace of God that we have to learn not to worry. Actually the word here has a deeper meaning than just worry, its full meaning is to be concerned about, mediate on, or even care about. We have to learn to not be anxious about things in our life where they affect us. But how do we do that? Well Paul tell us how to do that. He says through Prayer, Supplication, and Thanksgiving. Prayer is the daily communication that we have with God. We will never have peace if we do not have communication with the God of peace. Supplication here means the urgent needs that we all have in our life from time to time. They do not come up everyday but when they do they cause us the most worry, but here Paul says do not worry about them but rather take them to Jesus and let Him have them. Lastly Paul says give thanksgiving to the Lord. The word used for thanksgiving has the same root word that Eucharist (Lord’s Supper) has. This means to us that we are to thank God for what He has done for us through His death and resurrection. We should be thankful that we can carry out needs to God through Jesus Christ.
When we have done these things Paul says in verse 7 that the peace of God shall guard our hearts. He gives us a description of the peace when he says that it passes all understanding in our life. We do not even know why we have peace but there it is. Peace is not something that we have to seek, but rather as children of God we have the peace of God living inside of us. The problem is we have so much junk like bad attitudes, fear, and worry in our life that it is stopping the peace of God from rising up in our life. If we are going to have the peace of God then we have to do all that we can to rid ourselves of all the things that block the peace of God from flowing in our life.
MAINTAINING THE PEACE OF GOD
Now obtaining the peace of God is one things but maintaining that peace is quit another. I mean Jesus did not leave us His peace for it to come in moments but He left it for us that we may live in a state of peace. That does not mean that hard times will not come or that everything in life is going to be good but it means that through the hardship we can have confidence that God is working for us. That He is working on to give us peace in every area of our life. So how do we live in this state of peace?
First Paul says we have to change the way we think. We have to beginning to think Spiritually. He says to think on that which is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and anything that gives God praise. This is what it means to live in with a spiritual mindset. This is much different than the carnal thinking of fear, anxious, lustful, and prideful. The truth is that we cannot maintain peace when we have a carnal mindset. Carnality is when we as Christian think the same way that we did when we were sinners. This is why the Bible tells us to be “transformed in our mind” when we come to Jesus. If we are going to live in the peace of God then we have to retrain our thinking. We have to watch what we listen to, what we read, what we watch, and the conversations that we are apart of. We have to make sure that every thought is captured by the power of the Holy Spirit. We cannot allow ourselves to get caught up in the mindset of the culture that we live in. Spiritual thinking brings peace.
Lastly Paul tells the church that God’s peace is maintained in the knowledge that they have of Christ. He tells them to remember what they have learned, which is what they have studied, practiced and experienced in their Christian life. He tells them to remember what they have received which is the tradition that has been given to them by other and by Jesus Himself. He tells them to remember what they have heard, which is what has been preached and taught to them by the Apostles and by other preachers. Then he tells them that they should remember what they have seen or witnessed by themselves.
The peace of God is for all of us that call on the name of the Lord. He wants all of us to live in a state of peace and I pray that the peace of God be on you and your family.