When it comes to this particular discussion, there is one verse that (for me) defines the conversation, “…you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand” (Philippians 4:7). I used to marvel at this verse, unsure of its true and deepest meaning. What is peace? Unlike the beautiful picture, it is much more than the mere absence of war. For the Christian, peace is the essence and presence of Jesus. Admittedly this can be a bit difficult to quantify, so let’s give it a crack.
The fact that peace exceeds anything we can understand, may be viewed by some looking in, as a cop-out. Nothing could be further from the truth. That reality merely introduces us to the very nature of peace… it is mystical. Sadly many Christians have adopted a western-only mentality as it relates to spirituality. We’ve allowed our faith to be pigeon-holed into the “proper category” and there it sits (usually quite shelved). The nature of peace is that it is an internal work of an external source. Not only is it ok to admit this, it may be necessary to begin to understand how we acquire peace.
Like joy, peace is (thankfully) not pre-supposed solely by our circumstances. In fact, some of the most peaceful moments I have experienced in my lifetime have been in the midst of tumult.
In Isaiah 26:3 peace is talked about in this way, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Maybe this thought is why peace seems so illusive. Our minds and our hearts (where trust is born) are focused on our own pursuits. We struggle and scratch to get ahead and at the same time wonder why our lives seem absent of peace. Here is a challenge. In the next three weeks (21 days) read one chapter from the Gospel of John each day. Very simply ask yourself this question, “In what way(s) does Jesus demonstrate/define peace in these verses?”
Is peace possible in our lifetime? Maybe not in all of the world… but certainly within each of us who pursues it!