It is obvious from the medias’ reports of daily events throughout the world that there is a lot of violence and little peace being experienced by many people today. In addition to the wars that are taking place in several countries and terrorist attacks in major cities throughout the world, there are the reports of many murders and personal assaults in the neighborhoods of various cities. In spite of great advances in our understand of what provides for good health in our bodies, diseases and mental illness continue to take away the experience of peace in the lives of millions of people. It seems like this world in which we live has become a battleground, and there are few havens where anyone can experience guaranteed safety and peace. Air travel anywhere is hampered by the need for the personal searching of everyone who boards a plane to see whether or not they are carrying weapons of destruction. And the purchase of guns for personal protection has become a major political issue at least in the United States. Racial prejudice continues to hamper the peace of some US cities, and in some neighborhoods there is little evidence for peace between its residents and the police who patrol its streets. Moods of fear, anxiety, despair, depression, and even hopelessness affect many, including even young people, in their efforts to experience peace in their daily lives.
Not only is there a need to experience peace in the public gatherings of people, but there is also a need for it in many religious organizations. History has recorded the stories of various religious wars, and many Christians suffer much personal abuse and persecution from other Christians with whom they cannot serve and worship in peaceful relationships. Paul, an early apostle of the Christian faith, in his letters to the troubled church in Corinth (in the Bible) that he had established urged them to “Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11)
And even the early disciples in their experience with Jesus became “troubled” (John 14:1) as Jesus explained to them that he was going away and that they would not be able to immediately come to where he was “going” (John 13:33). They had some questions for Jesus regarding his remarks, and Jesus tried to put their minds at ease by indicating that he was going “to the Father” (John 14:12) and that he would continue to respond to their requests from there (See John 14:5-9 for their anxious discussion with Jesus). Finally he comforted them with these words: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). So “bad” news can frequently disrupt our experiences of peace in our daily lives by creating troubling moods regarding what might happen to us in the approaching moments and days.
The source of lasting peace in our lives
It should be obvious from the daily news that we receive that the political action of government officials and the efforts of armies and even police authorities cannot provide lasting peace on the battlefields of this world. We have gone from fighting our battles with stones to the use of spears and arrows and swords to bullets and flying shells to the use of nuclear bombs and missiles in efforts to maintain a balance of powerful weapons that will produce peace between nations of aggressive people, but there is no peace and no treaties seem to be adequate to the conflicts that threaten people everywhere. And the care of health professions and the pills that they prescribe can seldom provide lasting peace and freedom from the discomforting effects of disease, old age, and death.
Isaiah an ancient prophet of God in his messages to the troubled people of Israel identified the source of relief that would come to them in these words: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this” (Isaiah 9:6-7). This prophecy from Isaiah is his inspired announcement from the LORD, who is God, that “a son” (vs. 6) is going to be born into their nation who will eventually establish a “kingdom” (vs. 7) of “peace” and “justice” (vs. 7) that would last forever. This is a reference to Jesus who, as the Jewish Messiah, would physically return to this world to establish an extension of God’s kingdom from his throne in Jerusalem. (For a complete explanation of this matter see this statement: The Second Coming of Jesus.)
As we wait for the establishment of this “kingdom” of “peace” by Jesus, we have an indication from Paul that although Jesus has physically left this world, he is still able to provide peace to those who live in a personal relationship with him. In his closing remarks of his second letter to the Christian church in Thessalonica he offered them this benediction: “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16)
In his letter to the Christian church in Ephesus Paul explains how Jesus does this in his teaching regarding how Jesus has abolished the “hostility” (Ephesians 2:14) that many of these early Christians experienced in their separation from their Jewish associates and “the covenants of promise” (Eph. 2:12) that God had made with these people of Israel for his special providential and protecting care. He says this: “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” (Ephesians 2:14-18) This is Paul’s theological explanation regarding how the “peace” that Jesus offered to his “troubled” (John 14:27) disciples could be accessed from God, the Father, through the indwelling work of the Spirit in them and in the hearts and minds of those whom God is making into “members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19) through his work of sanctification or discipleship. In his letter to the Christian churches of Galatia Paul cites “peace” (Galatians 5:22) as one of the blessings of the “fruit” (vs. 22) that God gives to those who “walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16).
Conclusion regarding the source of peace in this world
No lasting peace can be gained and experienced by anyone from the political processes or the powerful weapons or the pills and treatments of the medical professionals of this world. In his letter to the Christian church in Rome, Paul puts it this way: “those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death (with fear and worry and anxiety and depression), but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6) In his letter to the Christian church in Philippi, Paul encouraged them with these words: “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything (or let anything trouble you), 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 minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:5-7) Living in this world in a personal relationship of faith in Jesus who provides you with the indwelling power of the Spirit (For a fuller statement regarding this matter go to Living By the Spirit.) is the only way to experience lasting peace on the battlefields of this world. And such peace is a gift from God that is GOOD forever.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV Study Bible English Standard Version. (ESV®), copyright © 2008 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.