What is peace? I like the quote in the picture for this article, because it is so true. Peace doesn't mean everything is okay, looks okay, or even that you feel okay. It means that you remain calm, steady in the midst. It's breathing deeply. It's resting quietly. It's God's grace active in our lives. And how do we receive His peace?
Peace is not an automatic right of the Christ follower. Peace does not come naturally.
I have been studying this for awhile. And, I am currently reminding myself of what I am learning - so I can actually apply it to my current non-peaceful attitude.
Brad and I were up for a couple of hours with the little princess last night, because - only God knows what reason- she couldn't sleep. Her mood today has not been much better.
Between an extremely busy season at church, too many late nights, things like Havyn not sleeping, normal life frustrations, etc...my patience is often times barely there and there is an ongoing fight with anxiety...peace just is not naturally occurring-lets put it that way.
Peace. Is it a right of passage as a follower of Christ? In other words, I choose to follow Christ, I get peace.
I would say no. Here is what I am learning about the peace of Christ. I am discovering some things about this through God's Word. It doesn't come naturally. It actually takes work. And that actually feels a little freeing. I mean, sure, it may make things a little harder for me in the short term-but in the long term-my life is filled with peace.
As someone who can fight depression and anxiety, peace is something that has often eluded me. It is something that I have longed for, but only had moments of-and those moments were usually contingent on my current circumstances.
There has been a gradual change over the last couple of years, though. I am more often filled with Christ's peace, and I am learning to remain in peace - no matter what my day and situation looks like. But hear me, please, when I say that it is an EVERY DAY BATTLE. I am coming to a better understanding of God's peace. And, I am learning why it might be such a battle. Because without actively allowing Christ into our lives - peace will be far reaching.
In ministering to others, and I know this for myself, people are longing for peace. Peace in fear. Peace in worry. Peace in anxiety. Peace in difficult situations. And more.
I am learning from His Word, and am fully confident, that peace is promised to us as followers of Christ. God wants us to live a life filled with peace. He desires that we experience the abundant life He offers, and peace is a major part of it.
But here's the thing - peace does not come naturally to the believer. Neither is it a reward to a good performance, because God's grace is continually offering peace and love and all of those wonderful things-even when we fail.
Peace is a result of actions driven by our faith in Christ. It is not passive. Rather, peace is produced within the heart of a life that actively pursues Christ. The key word is "actively".
So, if we truly want to experience the full extent of peace-long lasting peace-we will accept that we have to actively pursue Christ. Pursue Christ, pursue peace. The Bible gives us many specific ways we should be actively pursuing peace.
Here is what I have learned through scripture. I am applying these things to my life on a regular basis, and I am seeing a difference.
Peace is a result of:
- Depending on His grace, recognizing that we are justified by faith not by how much or how little we measure up. When we accept that "I am not enough" but "God will always be enough", we will experience peace. Stop trying to be perfect.
Romans 5:1 - Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Trust in God. We must choose each day to trust Him. Trust that He is in control - trust that He is faithful. Trust that He has our best interest in mind.
Isaiah 26:3 - You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
- A life of prayer. Prayer brings focus on who God is. Read more about this at "Why Pray".
Philippians 4:6-7 - Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
- Giving thanks. When we remember all that God has done for us and all that He provides for us, we will be filled with peace. Thanksgiving breeds contentment, and contentment breeds peace. Philippians 4:6-7
- A mind controlled by the Spirit, not by the flesh. When we fix our minds on Christ, and not on our difficulties or problems, we find peace. A mind controlled by the Spirit lives in communion with God - walking in His presence always. To do this, we must allow Him into our lives - through prayer, through worship, through obedience, through trust, etc.
Romans 8:6 - The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
- Similar to the above, focusing on God, and thinking on good things - positive things. Fill your mind with good things, and you will receive peace. Fill your mind with negativity and garbage, and you will only feed the war within your mind. This is so important. The mind is a dangerous place. Our minds alone can pull us under. Surround yourself with positive and uplifting people, words, music, etc.
Philippians 4 - Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
- Meditating on His Word. I have found this to be true time and time again. His Word gives life. It will be your guide when you are uncertain. His Word brings peace.
Psalm 19:7 - The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul.
There is more, I am sure, but this is the extent of my study so far.
The peace of God is not something that is truly complicated. It is not something that we have to chase down or something to be earned. It is simply the result of a life that is actively pursuing Christ. The key word here is "actively". And that, my friends, is where we tend to get a little messed up. We are not always "actively" following Christ. The peace of God actively reigning in my life depends also on me. How I walk through my day, what I am thinking about, what I am filling my mind and life with... God always offers peace freely and generously, but how it operates in our hearts and minds depends entirely on us.