Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
So often we think of peace as something you feel once in a while. I have even heard it said, that when making a decision, you need “feel peace about your choice” in order to know if you made the right one. We often ask God to grant us peace to live a more calm life. But what we fail to realize is that we are asking for a gift our Father has already given to us.
Scripture speaks of peace as something that is ever-present. God’s Word describes it as something that we reach out and grab ahold of for ourselves. As 1 Peter 3:11 reminds us to “turn form evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” It is as if all we have to do to have peace is to open our spiritual eyes and see that it is there. Jesus Himself says He leaves us with peace. Psalm 29:11 confirms this: “The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses His people with peace.”
Peace is freedom. It is rest. To have peace is to be reconciled, first to God and then to others. To call back into union, to make alliance and live in submission. Peace is in Jesus Christ; it is what He brought for us “For He Himself is our peace. . . He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to you who were near. For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit” (Ephesians 2:14a; 17-18). This is why when Christ was born the angels sang to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). Because Christ brought freedom from the power of sin and death (Romans 8:2), He brought rest to the weary at heart and guarding from the evil one (Matthew 11:28 & 2 Thessalonians 3:3). Most of all Christ brought reconciliation: “For God was pleased to have His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:19-20). This is our Father’s gift of peace.
This peace can be grabbed ahold of and applied to your life, specific for you and your situation and yet broad enough to be offered to everyone who trusts in Jesus. Your part is to not only know that this kind of peace is true but to believe that it is true. Peter, one of Jesus’s disciples, reminds us of the power we have to possess abundant peace in 2 Peter 1:2-3: “Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” God’s peace is ever-present because it is fulfilled in Christ. Peace is continual because the offer of freedom, rest, and reconciliation in Christ is always available. It is there regardless of what you believe, your circumstances, or who you are. In full acceptance of this truth, we are free to live in a constant pursuit of the depths of God’s peace that transcends understanding.
The Apostle Paul exhorts his friends in Philippians 4:6-7 to “not be anxious about anything, but in every situation with prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (emphasis mine). I always wondered what Paul meant by peace that transcends all understanding. I imagine it as a picture, that if someone in a situation of hardship or chaos could experience peace in an obvious way, it would be done as a fruit of the Spirit. It would also be unable to be understood by the onlookers and unexplainable by the possessor of such peace. Nonetheless, it would be obvious that such peace could only come from God. Just because it transcends understanding and is beyond explanation does not mean that it cannot be experienced or is not real. Rather, the reality of this peace is proven by the fact that it is there in our hearts and minds, present and beyond our comprehension. This is what I think God’s peace looks like in a Christian’s life: a continual understanding and belief that God’s got this situation, this moment, this outcome, because God’s got me.
God is referred to as the God of peace throughout the New Testament (Romans 15:33; 16:20, Hebrews 13:20, Philippians 4:9, and 1 Thessalonians 5:23), and Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:7). Amazingly, we who have been reconciled to God are called peacemakers. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). It is no wonder this would be our name, for our Father has given us peace and the message of peace to be shared. The presence of this peace marks our lives; it is lived out as an action and is verbally communicated as the gospel. So strap on your boots of peace (Ephesians 6:15), Christian, for God’s Word is full of encouragement on how peace should be lived out. “Flee from youthful lust and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with all who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). Here our plans of action are clear: make a direct turnabout and run full-out toward a life that practices faith love and peace. My favorite part about this verse is that we don’t do it alone, rather we run with all believers, calling on the name of the Lord. “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” Psalms 34:14 reminds us the continual pursuit of peace is always an action. “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Romans 14:19). “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). Both these verses in Romans tell us that peace includes people, those close to us and those we have just meet for the first time. We are brought back to the memory that God sought peace with us and as Christ followers, we should seek peace with others in our lives.
Regardless of where you are at in your pursuit of God’s peace, we have three good reasons to encourage pursuit and remind us of our purpose:
- We have peace with God. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith in to this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2).
- We have been called to live in peace. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to live in peace. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:15).
- Because living a life of peace is worth it. “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:18)
My final prayer of encouragement for you is the same as Paul’s for the Romans: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). And on dark nights, in painful moments and in days of hardship and sorrow, may the words of Jesus in John 16:33 be a comfort. But also know that these words of His peace are for the days of joy as well. They are equally valuable in the good times, the sunshine and the laughter. For these are His words to us for every day to live in Him in peace. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)