We think of peace as this elusive, ephemeral thing that escapes us like a mirage. We picture it, perhaps, like a glorious rainbowy soap bubble, and we think that maybe if we get our hands soapy enough we can hold onto it for a moment, but the moment we grasp too tightly it will burst and leave us with nothing for our troubles except a mess. We put the kids to bed, brew a cup of tea, light a candle, read a book, and think ahhhh . . . peace, only to be interrupted moments later by a call for water or monster-eradication services or just MOMMY!!!! And that peace is gone.
We are so deceived.
For the believer, peace is not a fluffy idea based on some vague image of Jesus smiling at us while we drink hot chocolate on a deck overlooking a calm lake at sunrise. It is not something that comes to us once every couple of months when all the crazy parts of our lives somehow seem to miraculously align so that we can breathe freely for a moment or two. Peace is not something that disappears the moment we look at it, so that we are afraid to mention it’s happening.
Peace is real, and we already have it. But Satan has so come against God’s people in this area that we don’t even realize we have peace. We feel completely crazy and long for “peace and quiet,” all the while completely misunderstanding what peace is.
Peace was not given on a calm, starlit night in Bethlehem, no matter how beautiful and peaceful our mental images are of the manger and the shepherds and the young mother and her child.
Peace came through the struggle that child endured three decades later at the cross. Peace came at the end of the battle that Christ faced as He subjected the desires of His humanity to the desires of His Father, as He faced mockery and scorn, excruciating physical pain and unimaginable spiritual anguish. Peace was given when Jesus triumphed over sin and our separation from God with those glorious words of victory– “It. Is. Finished.”
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
We have peace. Paul speaks these words as a fact, not as some wibbly-wobbly wish. Jesus, in His death, made a way where there had been no way– a way into the presence of God. If we know Jesus as our Savior, we have peace with God that CANNOT be destroyed, taken away, shaken, or changed, because it isn’t based on us or our works but on the unchanging character of God and the finished work of Christ Jesus.
So then. What is the problem? Because let’s be honest, peace feels like a pipe dream to most of God’s people. We may have peace with God, but we don’t feel peace in our hearts and minds.
I believe that we have allowed Satan to build up this ridiculous mythology about what peace means to the point that we cannot see what we have or how to put it to work in our lives. We keep waiting for peace that passes understanding with no idea how to get it.
So how do we get hold of this peace? Might I suggest that, like anything worth having in the Christian life, we might have to do battle for it? The peace we have with God is like a spring of water in our lives, but we let that well fill up with garbage and lies and false expectations. We need to dig down deep, let God do the work of cleansing and pruning in us so that we uncover the peace we have. And then it can flow up through our lives– the peace of God richly flowing through our hearts, pouring out into our relationships, keeping us grounded and even joyful in times of deep trial, fear, and uncertainty.
Here are some steps we can take to do battle for peace in our lives:
- Confess our lack of peace and the things that take its place in our lives– worry, fear, anger, bitterness, busyness, distraction, jealousy, lack of faith. Confess and believe we are forgiven (1 John 1:9). Confess again and again, every time peace is lacking.
- Ask God for wisdom and understanding of what His peace is. He loves to grant us wisdom as we ask for it (James 1:5).
- Use Scripture as a sword. Speak truth out loud. Post it around our homes, workspaces, wherever we need to be reminded of it. We must bring our eyes and minds back to it on purpose when we experience a lack of peace in your life. Memorize specific Bible verses that deal with the specific things that are stealing our peace.
- Ask God to change our hearts, and then let Him do it. Change hurts.This is a battle. There will be bloodshed. It is worth it. We must choose to believe, to obey, to endure, and to reap the amazing benefits as we find ourselves able to stand when those around us are falling (Eph. 6:15).
- Live out God’s peace in our relationships. This will become the natural outflow of a heart that knows it has peace with God. But it is a process. It will involve a lot of falling flat on our faces, a lot of failure, a lot of seeking forgiveness. But God promises that His peace tears down walls (Eph. 2:13-22). It is worth the humility it requires. Think of what it cost our Savior to purchase this peace. Let Him use us to show that peace to a world in such desperate need.
Friends, the peace we have with God is meant to spill out into our relationships with others, to tear down walls and to rule in our hearts and to guard our minds. Look around you. The world needs peace. Your home and workplace need peace. Your Facebook newsfeed needs peace.
And if you have Christ Jesus, you have peace. Let us press on to make it ours, to share it with others. Let us dig deep and insist on true peace– peace that, unlike soap bubbles and dreamy wishes, is very real and cannot be taken away by this world.
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.