Perhaps you have heard the following thoughts: Man is not at peace with other men because he is not at peace with himself. And, man is not at peace with himself because he is not at peace with God. So, in today’s blog, I want to ponder with you, what it means to walk in peace. To help us in this conversation, here are my presuppositions: 1) There is a God. 2) We were created by Him, for Him, and to enjoy fellowship with Him. 3) When we do not live according to the reasons for which we are made (fellowship/enjoyment of Him), we will lack the peace we need to live a satisfying life. I am not going to take the time and space here to “prove” my presuppositions, but the rest of this little blog will be an unfolding of them, an explanation of sorts, of why I believe these pre-supposed truths are true! So, when we are talking about peace, especially as a fruit of the Spirit, what do we mean? The first thing I’ll suggest is, peace is not just the absence of conflict, but the presence of wholeness. You might live in a home perhaps, where there is no outward conflicts/fighting, but there is very little harmony, love, and care for one another. There is instead, fractured relationships, an underlying silent current of brokenness. No fighting, but very little relationship. That, my friend, is a home that lacks peace. I like this idea of wholeness just mentioned. In the biblical world, the greeting of “Shalom” would often occur. While often translated as “peace”, it was a greeting where one wished a well-being, a health, a wholeness for the other person. You were wishing upon them a lack of lack if you will! That is, if they were experiencing shalom/peace, they would be enjoying wholeness/fullness, or, for the purposes of this blog entry, they were enjoying life as it was meant to be enjoyed. So, when we are experiencing peace, we are living life in such a way that acknowledges 1) There is a God, 2) We were created by him, for Him, and to enjoy Him.
At this point, it might be helpful to clear up a possible misunderstanding about what is not meant when we talk about walking in peace. Walking in peace does not at all imply a life with little or no conflict or struggle. What it does mean, is, when conflict and struggle do come to our lives, we still can enjoy a sense of wholeness/wellness. We remember God is still in control, even when it seems so much about our lives at any particular point is becoming un-frayed and unraveled. PEACE. So, how do we enjoy a life of peace? How I will go about answering this question will be more along the lines of a description rather than a prescription. Yes, there are some things a person my “prescribe” in order to experience peace, but like any aspect of the Spirit’s fruit, I believe it’s more helpful to speak in terms of describing a relationship, rather than give a bullet list of to-dos, in order to experience peace. So, I will suggest a few things here.
– First, peace comes as a gift from God. Jesus told His followers “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). You might remember He started out this chapter with similar words: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” (John 14:1). So, why the propensity here toward troubled hearts, or, a lack of peace? If you are not familiar with what’s going on in John 14, Jesus is preparing His followers for His crucifixion and His return to His Father. Talk about trouble and the lack of peace that would flood their hearts! I mean, these men had spent close to three years following Jesus, betting their lives on their belief that He was the Messiah. Now He says He will be killed and is leaving. They can’t just pull themselves up by their emotional bootstraps and “claim” peace. Instead, they must receive it from Jesus. That peace is a gift is also a basic understanding that comes from knowing it is a fruit of the Spirit. The Spirit must generate this wholeness in us. We cannot manufacture it by our best wishes and intent. Since peace is a gift, I suggest you ask our Father for it. After all, He knows how to give good gifts to His children (Matt.7:11; Luke 11:13). I especially like Luke’s version of Jesus’ teaching here. “How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Kind Father, please give us your Spirit, in part, that we might experience the fruit of peace in this troubled world.
– Second, to experience peace in this world, ask God to help you maintain relationships that honor Him. We are told to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:2). What do such relationships look like? For starters, it would include being “completely humble and gentle; being patient, bearing with one another in love . . .” (Eph. 4:2). It would also look like much of the descriptors entailing what it looks like to live as a child of the light, seen in Eph. 4:17ff, not to mention the entirety of chapter 5 of Ephesians. Relationships that honor God, are ones that “live by the Spirit, and keep in step with the Spirit, and are lives that lack conceit and are not provoking or envying one another (Gal.5:25).
Of course, much more could be said about walking in peace as an expression of the Holy Spirit’s fruit, but I would close with by reminding us, our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in us, whom we received from God. We are not our own. We were bought with a price and are to honor God with our bodies (I Cor. 6:19-20). Part of the Holy Spirit’s “job description” is to glorify Jesus, to bring attention to Him (John 16:14). This brings me back to my original presuppositions! Remember: 1) There is a God. 2) We were created by Him, for Him, and to enjoy fellowship with Him. 3) When we do not live according to the reasons for which we are made (fellowship/enjoyment of Him), we will lack the peace we need to live a satisfying life. Riffing a bit off of these statements, I offer a closing prayer. Perhaps it might help you pray your own prayers, to experience and enjoy walking in peace!
“Thank you, Lord that You are God and I am not. Thank you that as I live according to the purpose for which I was created, which is to honor You, I will experience the peace I so desperately need even in a world that at times seems to be falling apart around me. Thank You Jesus, that whether or not I always feel your peace, I certainly have this peace because You do not take it away. By faith, I believe I am whole in You, that because of your death, burial and resurrection on my behalf, I am complete. It is well with my soul. Amen.”