Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against such things there is no law.”
Peace is the common goal for all humanity. Mankind desires world peace, but when we examine history we see that the more we strive for peace, the farther we’re driven away from it. Why is this? Well, because the entire world is corrupt with sin. As long as sin abounds, world peace is impossible. Some look to Jesus as a great teacher and even erroneously believe He came to bring peace to the world, but He didn’t promise us world peace. He 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 heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). Jesus did not promise to bring world peace; He promised to give us His peace, which comes not from this world. He also said elsewhere His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36), so if His peace is not of this world either, perhaps they both come from the same place—God the Father in Heaven.
I love the featured image I provided for this blog entry because that’s when I’m at my most peaceful state: out in nature, on a canoe in the middle of a lake, doing photography, for God’s creation forces me to look to Christ. Since we are new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), we have our Saviour to look up to in faith just as the Israelites looked up to the bronze serpent in faith (John 3:14; Numbers 21:4-9). After God had led the Israelites to destroy the kingdom of Arad, they began complaining to God and Moses that God had brought them out of Egypt simply to die in the desert. In His righteous anger, God sent snakes among them, and many Israelites who were bitten died. After a while, the Israelites came to Moses, repented of their sins, and Moses prayed on their behalf. (Indeed, Moses’ intercessory actions show us a type of Christ in that just as Moses was mediator for the sins of the Israelites, so Jesus is the greater mediator for our sins, the one greater than Moses—Deuteronomy 18:15; Hebrews 3:3.)
In response, God commanded Moses to make a bronze serpent and set it on a pole and that whoever is bitten by a snake and looks up at the bronze serpent in faith will live. Just as the bronze serpent was lifted up, so Christ would be lifted up for our sins. Jesus brings up this part of Scripture, pointing out the bronze serpent was pointing to Him. The only difference is that when the Israelites looked upon the bronze serpent with faith they were saved from temporal death, but when we look upon Jesus Christ in faith we are saved from eternal death. That is the encouragement and peace we have. We can look upon Jesus Christ in faith and know we are saved from eternal death. Also, as new creations in Christ and therefore a new identity, we can be completely at peace with whom we are as individual human beings. Because God no longer sees us for our sins but now sees us in Christ, we can be completely at peace with ourselves and trust Him to sustain our lives because He is our Source.
Let me explain this from a personal perspective so you can perhaps better understand what I mean. It wasn’t until several years ago that I’ve been at peace with myself—with life. Because of how God sees me in Christ and how Christ views me, I accept who I am. This is only possible through the peace of Christ He gives us. Because of His peace, I accept my personality and even my unchangeable flaws (sometimes). For my entire life, I never accepted my personality and especially not my flaws because of the self-loathing I suffered with for a long time. Jesus gave me the strength to defeat this self-loathing through the peace and grace of His Spirit. It is because of this peace that I am able to love myself and look past my flaws, as well as realising where I am flawed, other fellow Christians make up for them.
It is this same peace that enables me to love my neighbour. Where I am weak at certain things, other people are strong in. That’s the beautiful thing about the Church. The Church is one body, of which we are all individual members (1 Corinthians 12). We all have different functions to carry out within the Church. What the arms cannot do, the feet do. We can’t walk on our hands because that’s not what they were designed to do, so our feet do that for us. Likewise, where the pastor who knows nothing of financing an organisation (i.e. the church), a member or elder of the church who has a profession or experience in accounting can do that function of the body.
Another peace we have in Christ is what He concludes in John 14:27, “Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” The best way this can be explained is what He says in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” I’ll explain this from a personal perspective as well. Because of the peace Christ gives us, whenever I face something troubling or some sort of tribulation, I don’t worry too much about it and I don’t become fearful because I know my life is in the hands of Jesus my Creator. I admit there are times when I do worry a lot as part of failing to trust God because I’m a sinner, especially when I left my pastoral calling once upon a time, but putting my fears in the hands of Jesus transformed those fears and worries into peace. All we have to do is come to Him, talk to Him, and trust He will handle our situation, and He will give us His peace.
The best peace we have is the peace Christ gives us in God our Father. “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him” (Colossians 1:21-22). Paul says it another way, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life” (Romans 5:10). By His death and resurrection, Jesus has reconciled us to God—while we were His enemies, He has brought us peace with God. And so, Paul exhorts us, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18). As Christ has given us peace with God the Father, so God calls us to live peaceably with others, that in us they might see “the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, [which] will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).