Christian, life

Surprised by Peace

Peace. We all want it.

But there’s often not much reason for it.

Think about it. Why should I feel calm when my life is less than ideal? Why should I be gracious to that annoying neighbor? Why should one country treat another country tactfully and fairly when they have very different ideas about how to get along?

And yet peace – perfect, reason-transcending peace – is what we’re offered by a God who knows even more about our situations than we do.

Peace within us, and peace in how we respond to others.

Peace that’s ours for the asking.

The Peace He Gives

God is a master of peace. He created a universe out of chaos. He brought about the greatest act of reconciliation in history. And to each of us, He offers peace on an individual level. Not always situational peace, but peace that gets us through those situations.

At the most basic, He offers us three kinds of peace:

Peace With God

As a species and as individuals, our relationship with God tends to be less than perfect, because we all have shortcomings. Ever since the very first humans sinned, we have struggled with imperfection, both within and without.

God responds to this struggle by offering us reconciliation with Him through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Anyone – absolutely anyone – who believes in Christ’s work and asks Him for this gift can receive forgiveness and unobstructed access to God’s presence and fellowship.

The Peace of God

When we receive peace with God through Christ, we gain access to the peace of God. This peace comes from knowing that God is always with us, hears us when we pray, and is able to give us strength and work things out in our best interest. Even if He doesn’t end our struggles, we know we don’t have to face them alone. God’s Holy Spirit lives in us, empowering us to respond to our situations in God-honoring ways even when we feel powerless to do so on our own.

Peace With Others

Because God forgives us through Christ, we can and should forgive others. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that what they do is okay. It doesn’t mean compromising our commitment to God-honoring standards. And it doesn’t guarantee they will love and forgive us in return, or change their ways. It means that the “Accounts Receivable” column in our ledger is empty. No revenge or restitution required just to make us feel good.

We can demand accountability. But the fate of those who hurt us is no longer the basis of our mental, emotional, and spiritual health. We don’t take joy in their misfortunes, and if they change for the better, we can genuinely rejoice.

How We Receive It

None of these kinds of peace make much sense from a human standpoint, or come easily to us. We could never earn #1. Our circumstances rarely favor #2. We struggle with #3.

So how do we access them?

We pray.

To ask for peace with God, we pray. To experience the peace of God, we pray. To access the peace we need to extend to others, we pray. And accept it.

Even when we don’t understand.

 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

–Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

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