Have you ever said or thought, “I just want peace!” Maybe as a mom you have thrown your hands in the air as your children bicker over a toy for the tenth time that day and exclaimed, “Can we just be peaceful in this house?” Maybe as a friend caught between a dispute you have cried, “Can we just be at peace with one another?” Perhaps at work you have wished there could simply be a peaceful day without any hitches. Perhaps as a woman who battles anxiety you wish you could simply have peace of mind for even five minutes.
Most people want peace. We want to be in harmony in our relationships, we want our lives to run like a peaceful river, we want times of quiet and serene rest, and we want peace from anxiety. But in a sin-corrupted world, filled with thorns and thistles, peace can seem elusive or impossible. And yet, the Bible proclaims that as believers we can have peace. We know perfect peace will exist in heaven, but how do we gain such peace on earth?
In the Restoring Peace from Anxiety series, our goal was to recover that promised peace of Philippians 4. But maybe you have finished this series and you’re still not so sure what this peace is or that you can truly have it. In this final article, we are going to study what biblical peace is and isn’t, and how we can experience it even now.
We have two options for peace in this life: The peace the world offers, and the peace that God offers. The question is, which one are you pursuing?
The peace the world offers is often related to tranquility, serenity, and accord. If asked to describe peace, we probably first think of a lack of conflict, a quiet house, calm weather, and gentle waters. We think of an easy-going day with no problems or stressors. Maybe you even think of a spa with massages, pedicures, waterfalls, and cleansing facemasks.
This kind of peace requires a situation or circumstance to produce a serene feeling. Sometimes we can force this kind of situation—we leave the fight, we go somewhere secluded, we go on vacation, or we book a “me day.” But aside from that, creating or finding this kind of peace is out of our hands. We can’t control whether or not we are peace with others, we can’t always create a tranquil haven in our houses, we can’t control the weather, and we can’t always run the disorder.
And yet, Jesus said that he left his peace with us (John 14:27), that his peace would guard us (Philippians 4:7), and that his words should bring us peace even in this stressful, scary, and disordered world (John 16:33). Jesus’ peace is a different kind of peace that is not based on our circumstances.
God has a different, better peace to offer to his children. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27 NASB). Rather than being based on circumstance, God’s peace overcomes our circumstances and calms our hearts even when everything is shattering around us. With God’s peace, we can truly say our hearts are not troubled or fearful even though we may be in the middle of conflict, disaster, suffering, or fear.
This kind of peace does not come from a tranquil situation, but from God. “Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance” (2 Thessalonians 3:16). God grants this peace to his children, not because their situation has worked out well, but out grace gives peace to their hearts when the world would otherwise be troubled.
This is the kind of peace we want, friend. We can battle to create peace for ourselves, or we can rest in the unending peace that God gives. Which will you choose?
The peace of God is not attained through mystical practice as some may suggest. People have tried to find peace through mindless meditation, emptying their minds, listening or soaking prayers, mechanical repetition of a mantra, and the like. But God’s peace is not restored to our hearts that way.
Based on Our Salvation
The peace of God is first and foremost based on our relationship with him. Ephesians 2:1-13 explains this perfectly:
“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
“Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called ‘Uncircumcision’ by the so-called ‘Circumcision,’ which is performed in the flesh by human hands—remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
We were God’s enemies, separated from him by our sins. But God, being rich in mercy, opened our eyes to the gospel, that we would believe and be saved. We are now at peace with God; there is no more wrath, no more separation—we have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Our peace as believers is first based on our justification (being made right before God) by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. There would be no peace without this restored relationship.
Produced From a Heart that Trusts God
In Philippians 4:6-7, we see that our peace is produced from our trust in God. It is when we first submit our fears and worries to God in prayer and find contentment in him that we have the peace that surpasses understanding. We find the peace of God when we choose to rest in the knowledge of who he is and his sovereignty in our situation rather than worrying.
Such an attitude, knowledge, and trust in God can come from first knowing God through his Word. John Calvin writes, “It is on good ground that he calls it the peace of God, inasmuch as it does not depend on the present aspect of things, and does not bend itself to the various shiftings of the world, but is founded on the firm and immutable word of God.”¹
Our anxious hearts are unable to find peace in God because we are choosing to worry rather than trust him. But the believer who has a thankful attitude based on the unwavering confidence in God his ability and willingness to work all things out for our good knows this peace even when the world is running scared.²
If you want peace, friend, you need to first know the God of peace. You need to know him as your Saviour and Lord, and you also need to know him as one who can be trusted. Then we will have the peace that surpasses all understanding and that guards our hearts in Christ.
”Philippians 4 Calvin’s Commentary,” Bible Hub, , accessed June 20, 2018, http://biblehub.com/commentaries/calvin/philippians/4.htm.
John MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary(Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2005), 1725.
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