“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:5b-7)
Since July 2006, I have written over 225 columns for the Kingsport Times-News. Although my efforts are far from perfect, I have always tried to be Spirit-led, biblically grounded, relevant and comprehensive. So, I was surprised when I discovered a few days ago that I had never written an article on the peace of God.
The first question I asked myself was, “Why?” The Lord is identified in scripture as the Prince of Peace, the Lord of peace and the God of peace. (Isaiah 9:6; Romans 15:33; 2 Thessalonians 3:16) God’s peace has never been a small or secondary issue, and it is a particularly important topic for these extraordinarily unpeaceful times in which we now live.
This led to my next questions: self-examination.
I am by nature a doer, a problem-solver, and an extroverted optimist. My perspective is that as Christians, we can individually and corporately become much more than we presently are – more intimate with God, more loving with others, more knowledgeable of God’s scriptural revelations, more mature, more prayerful, more fruitful, more like Jesus. “Press on toward the prize” is my motto. (Philippians 3:12-14) An abiding spiritual awakening is my goal. And no one frustrates me more than the Laodicean, “couch potato” Christians who think it is all up to God or that they have already arrived. (Revelation 3:14-18)
As a result, my perspective on the peace of God has been based on two biblical truths.
First, despite being a very flawed man, I have peace with God, forgiveness of sins and the free gift of eternal life through my faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1, 6:23; Colossians 1:20).
Second, I have the peace that comes from knowing all things are possible for God, and for those who believe. (Matthew 19:26; Mark 9:23) “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) Therefore, I have confidence not just that we ultimately win, but that we can win in our “here and now” circumstances if we will just tap into all that He has granted to us. (2 Peter 1:3-4; 1 John 4:4)
This type of peace has been fairly effective over the years in keeping me free from fear, worry and despair. It encourages me to out-persevere the devil both as to my own situations and the needs of others. But unfortunately, it is hardly ever content with the status quo, which means it often feels more restless than restful.
Biblical peace, called “shalom” in Hebrew, includes the concepts of peace, completeness, welfare, safety, health and wholeness. That sounds restful, not restless. Yet Jesus doesn’t just promise us this shalom peace at the end of our journey. He gives it to us now while we walk in this broken world and all its troubles. (John 16:33) He offers us peace on the battlefield and restfulness as we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. (Luke 9:23; Ephesians 6:10-20)
My conclusion: I had not been led to write about the peace of God during these last thirteen years because I didn’t know enough.
For the last three months, I have been disengaged from outside ministry and focused on walking with my beloved Christie and the Lord through the valley of pancreatic cancer. Doug the doer has been limited in what Doug can do. Doug the optimistic problem solver has watched the problems of Christie’s symptoms persist. And I am learning the secret of God’s peace. (Philippians 4:11-13)
I am learning that the peace Jesus Christ gives us is His peace, called the peace “of” Christ and the peace “of” God. (John 14:27; Colossians 3:15). This is a supernaturally imparted peace that truly surpasses my understanding of my circumstances, my understanding of world circumstances, and even my understanding of biblical truth.
This peace is not based on what I know but on what He knows, and on my trust in Him even when I don’t understand at all.
Because I find this peace “in Him”, I can disconnect from it when I forget to set my mind on Christ, His Spirit, His Word, His love and goodness. (John 15:4, 9-11, 16:33; Romans 8:6: Philippians 4:8-9) That still happens from time to time.
But every time I come back to Him, Jesus releases anew His shalom peace in me.
I will never be a Laodicean. I will always seek to take up my cross. I am learning that my cross and His yoke are the same thing, and that the peace of God makes it both easy and light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
God bless you, and God bless our community.