Peace. It seems that I am constantly longing for it – a peaceful evening or Lord's Day afternoon – where all is well, and the chores are done, and my mind is at rest, and the house is quiet (yes, even with six kids at home!), and I have a good book in my hands, and maybe even a fresh batch of sweet tea is on the brew. Peaceful surroundings. That is often my definition of peace. And there is nothing inherently wrong with that desire, I suppose. I think heaven will be a lot like that – perfect rest and peace and contentment!
But I am reminded that there is more to peace than just peaceful surroundings. In fact, if I am in Christ, there are a number of ways in which I have peace (or can have peace) even in spite of my surroundings. Think about it. If I am in Christ, I have …
Peace with God. “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5.1). Once I was a self-made enemy of God. Once I was alienated, and estranged, and at odds with him. Once I was a renegade whose life was a constant kicking against the goads. But now, because Christ died for me, I who was once an enemy of God have become His friend! So, while there may not always be perfect calm around me; in the midst of it all, there is peace … with God (which is most important).
Peace with one another. “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall” (Ephesians 2.14). Paul wrote those words about how, in Christ, both Jews and Gentiles now belong to one family because of the work of Jesus. But the same principle is true of all sorts of folks who might have once kept one another at arm’s length – black and white, upper and lower social classes, various nationalities, and so on. There are people with whom, before we knew Christ, we may have thought we could never identify; but who are now our family in the Lord, “who made both groups into one;” and who “is our peace.” What a blessing it is to see that working itself out even in our own diverse little congregation!
Peace with myself and my surroundings. This may be the most difficult kind of peace for me, sometimes, to lay hold of. If I am in Christ; if am I right with God; if my past is forgiven; and if my present and future are secure with Jesus (and all of these things are true, by the way, if I am in Christ) … then why should I be so often worried, or nervous, or uneasy, or edgy, or irritable? My circumstances may tempt me to be this way. But I don’t have to give in to the disquiet … if I remember who holds me in His hand; who is in control of my life, causing “all things to work together for good” (Romans 8.28). My problem is that I am so often looking at my circumstances, instead of at my Father! But if I’ll reverse that trend … there will be peace. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee” (Isaiah 26.3, KJV).
That is the solution when the evening falls apart, or the phone won’t stop ringing, or the to-do list just doesn’t seem to end, or the house is a wreck, or … you name it. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee” – on the Lord, not on the circumstances! Easy to type onto the page. Not so easy to do. But definitely possible! Pray for me that I would find this often elusive peace … and find it yourself, by staying your mind of the God who alone can grant it.