The Peace of God

There are places in life we like to go to. On that journey we go through other places we also like, until we reach our destination.

For example, when on vacation to South Dakota, my destination is Custer State Park. I revel in the idea that this is the place where I will arrive and soon experience all that it offers me.

On the way there I enjoy going through two places that act as hallmarks on the journey. Yes, they are special in and of themselves, but more to the point, they indicate that I am getting closer to my ultimate destination.

These two hallmark locations are Falls City Park in Sioux City, SD and the rest stop above the Missouri River at Chamberlin, SD. Each place fills my heart with warmth and a feeling of joy deep down at my center most being; each being wholly important and beautiful; supplying evidence that I am headed in the correct direction.

We’re going to explore that fruit of the Spirit known as peace; treating it as our destination…that place at which we wish to arrive safe and sound.

The way we will arrive will be through two other places which are important and beautiful in and of themselves but are also hallmarks that we are nearing our goal.

These other two places, through which we gladly travel, go by the names of hope and security.

We’ll talk more about this later.

What is peace? According to Merriam-Webster, “peace” is freedom from disturbance; the presence of quiet and tranquility, even solitude.

The United Nations, on the other hand, defines peace as “postponed hostilities.”

The first sounds nice enough while the second sounds dour at best and a low bar for sure. It’s amazing but not surprising that this is what the supposed best of humanity can come up with when it comes to defining such an important word and concept.

Regardless of the earthly definition we can all be sure of one thing, peace does not frequently abound as it evades and eludes us.

The reasons people use for lack of peace are many and typical: the economy, nuclear proliferation, unjust governments, racism, family strife, low grades, a hair in our sandwich, being spanked as a child or a broken washing machine…there is no end to those influencers which shatter our sense of peace.

The simple truth is this: we do not have peace because, as a species and within our human nature, we are at war with God. The darkest expression of this is our heart's desire to be separated from Him in every way and for every day of our lives.

Persisting in this desire until our death, He will give us what we want; what we have spent our entire lives seeking and pursuing with great fervor. He will allow us to be separated from Him for all eternity.

Our methods of warfare with God are typical and there is no shortage of examples in the world around us. As people we reject His authority and ignore His laws; as people we curse His name and ignore His existence; as people we kill each other and do so for convenience, advantage or even fun; as people we abuse His creation and work on His Sabbath. No, there is no limit to that of which we are capable in our war with and against God.

God’s methods of warfare are not what this world expected.

Instead of a straight up battle which He would easily win, He sought to win our hearts and personally request a return to Him. He did so and does so by sending the Prince of Peace.

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulders. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:6-9, NKJV)

As Isaiah wrote this 700 years before the birth of Christ He confirmed that the fruit of the Spirit known as “peace” was with God and that He would send the Prince of Peace (God the Son) to live among us and to feel what we feel while remaining free from sin. The peace with which Jesus was sent, that He was, that He brought, was with God from the beginning as the Son was with God from the beginning.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:1-5, NKJV)

This to save us from our separation from God with Whom we are at war by our human nature. With Whom we can be joined for eternity by calling upon the beautiful name of Jesus for our salvation, by our Heavenly Father’s grace.

“And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40, NKJV)

Jesus’ goal in coming to earth was more than simply to postpone hostilities among mankind and do the same between mankind and God. It wasn’t even to cease hostilities among or between mankind and God.

Jesus came to bring about a full and abiding relationship of restoration and love. The cost of this everlasting peace was His life.

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5, NKJV)

The matter of “the chastisement” which Christ received was “for our peace.” The question of critical mass must be with whom can we have peace? That He took upon Himself and received in full measure the cup of God’s wrath, transforming it into a chalice filled to the brim with His love, was so that we could be at peace with two separate and distinct parties.

The first being God with the sin gap and transgressions, with which all humanity is born, being absolutely eliminated for all time and for all persons who call upon the name of Jesus Christ.

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18, NKJV)

The second matter as relates to “the chastisement” which Christ received was, again, “for our peace,” a peace that we could have and experience with ourselves and our own daily lives by the presence and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but when I am at conflict with someone I love and for whom I have great affections there is a piece of me that is missing; a part of me which is lacking.

Sure, I may appear fully functional from the outside, I may be fully functional from the standpoint of executing my tasks and chores, but inside my heart and deep within my soul I am suffering. I am longing and I recognize that things are not as they should be because a key and crucial relationship with the one for whom I love and have great affections is broken and in a state of disrepair.

If this is the case with loved ones and those with whom we have relationships why do we think it would be any less so when we are in the midst of the same state of disrepair in our relationship with God, our Creator?

Even more so is the level of dysfunction in our daily lives, our comings and goings, when we do not have the peace that comes from knowing Who we know; knowing that He knows us and that all has been made right by the power of His will and His love for us. So that we could, as it reads in John 10:10, "have life and have it more abundantly"…the way God wants us to have it, which is a far cry better than anything that we could ever imagine.

That we could lay down our arms against God, hoist high the white flag of truce, emerge from our foxholes of self-aggrandizement and our intellectual trenches of worldly wisdom and return to Him in a sweet and precious relationship only by the fact that He raised the white flag first when His Son, the lamb without blemish, was hoisted high on a hill upon a cross at Golgotha.

We cannot force our fellow man to be at peace with us in our lives, and even Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross did not ensure that we would accept His terms of peace. Romans 3:10b-11 explains, "There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God."

None of us can accept Jesus' offer of peace through our own will and power. Our natural selves do not want it. Only God can lead us to want peace with Him; the Holy Spirit leads us to want Jesus and His message. Once the Spirit draws us, and we believe in Jesus, then the peace comes.

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2, NKJV)

At the start of our time today I drew an analogy between our journeys in faith and a road trip to South Dakota; final destinations and points along our journey that we enjoy visiting for a number of different reasons.

If peace with God and peace within us is our destination, this place cannot be approached without first traveling through a place called security and a place called hope.

We then arrive fully rested, wholly assured and at peace because we are secure in our relationship with God through His Son. We arrive bright-eyed and in full expectation of what we will experience because we have arrived at and have placed our hope in Christ crucified. In both cases knowing that the grace of God in Christ is sufficient to fully unite us with our Heavenly Father. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

The fruit of the Spirit known as peace calls us into His presence (Ephesians 2:11-18) and calls us to be confident in that presence (Hebrews 4:16) because we are His friends (John 15:15).

Back to the Old Testament, "You {God} will keep him {us} in perfect peace, whose mind {when our mind} is stayed on You {God}, because he {us} trusts in You {God}." (Isaiah 26:3, NKJV {parenthesis mine})

God’s peace transcends earthly matters.

As Philippians 4:4-7 illustrates; believers are to be "anxious for nothing," for God promises to "guard your hearts and minds." It is a peace “which transcends all understanding”; that is, to the worldly mind, such peace is incomprehensible. Its source is the Holy Spirit of God, whom the world neither sees nor knows. (John 14:17).

Clearly the people who have chosen the world and its ways are too busy being at war with He who only wants them to return to Him. Too busy being distracted by the fog of what is truly Satan’s lost war, obscuring the ability of billions to see what is crystal clear; God loved us first (1 John 4:19), God loves us still (Romans 5:8), God will love us forever (Psalm 100:5); we must call out to Jesus for salvation (Acts 3:19).

The Spirit-filled Christian has a peace that is abundant, available in every situation, and unlike anything that the world has to offer (John 14:27).

The alternative to being filled with the Spirit and His peace is to be filled with alarm, filled with doubt, filled with foreboding, or filled with dread.

Do we know people like this? Were we once like this? What can God do through us to reach those whom we used to be like and so similar?

May our lives convey how much better it is to let the Spirit have control and perform His work of growing peace and all fruits of the Spirit within us to the glory of God so we might come to a place of security and a place of hope on our way to not just any peace; the peace of God!