The Dual Nature of Peace
Peace. Such a simple word and yet how eloquently it speaks. The word conveys thoughts of serenity – hilltop experiences overlooking a setting sun. It rings of hands joined in hands in silent love. Just hearing the word can calm a racing heart and quiets a noisy mind. It transports us to moments in our past, and causes us to yearn for something in the far off distance.
What is Your Peace
Whatever the word conjures up in your mind, I would imagine there is a sense of warmth, beauty and longing to it. It is a universal desire. And yet, in our culture at least, peace has come to be associated with external factors. It has become a transitory state flowing out of a set of right circumstances… The doctor’s report was good: peace. An unexpected return on an investment: peace. The kids are all tucked in their beds and there’s a big piece of chocolate cake waiting for me to snack on before a crackling fire: peace.
Spas operate with the entire goal of creating the “right environment” to produce a sense of peace for their clientele. Marketing companies target peace-craving customers. They offer their sheets, their mattresses and even their heavenly-designed footwear as avenues of peace (or at least a peaceful night of sleep). Again and again, we are instructed to believe that perfect serenity comes from a perfect set of circumstances. And yet, the God of Peace Himself teaches an entirely different philosophy.
God’s Nature of Peace
A simple cursory study of the word peace in the Bible speaks to the importance God places on the concept of peace. Fully aware of the human desire for peace, the God of the Bible does not pour cold water over this longing but seems to urge us to long for it more and more. “Seek peace,” we are told in 1 Peter 3:11, “and pursue it.” “Live in peace,” we are told by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “and the God of peace and love will be with us.” Even the Old Testament prophet Isaiah wrote of the God Who desired for His followers to be “kept in perfect peace.”
The more you search the Scriptures, the more clearly you’ll see God’s heart for His children to live lives filled with peace. And yet, as I mentioned previously, there is a difference in the substance of the peace God desires for us. God’s peace, unlike the peace of the culture, is not a transitory, up-and-down sort of peace; it is a steady, unbreakable stream flowing through our lives. Instead of being something attained through just the right set of circumstances, God’s peace is always linked with permanence. Why? God makes this clear as well.
Unshakeable Nature of Peace
The unshakeable peace God longs for His children to have is a peace that is a byproduct of His presence, of His truth, not of the proper set of circumstances. Though similar in appearance to the peace of the culture, this peace would flow out of a different fountainhead altogether; a fixed fountain within the heart of the believer. This new source becomes the secret to the unshakeable nature of the peace God desires. If the source is unalterable, then so too, the peace. “Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.” 2 Thess. 3:16.
The truth is that God’s peace, Biblical peace, has never been nor will ever be circumstantial in nature. His peace is available to every one of His children at every minute of every day. The truth is that no Believer need ever thirst unsatisfied for peace. Peace is always there. The gift was left us by our Savior, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you; not as the world gives do I give unto you.”
Fountainhead of Peace
It sounds beautiful doesn’t it? Some supernatural fountainhead of peace bubbling up and drenching our lives with tranquility. Except, if you’ll forgive me for being a bit personal, I wonder if that is truly what you’re experiencing. As you think over your life, as you look around at your typical day-to-day experiences, would you say the defining characteristic is peace? Would you say that you normally pillow your head after a day of battles, uncertainties, and flat-out ugliness with words like: “Though the storm rages on, all is well within me… praise God, there is peace!” Because if not, can I tell you quite plainly, you are not alone.
The discrepancy between God’s beautiful desire for peace in the lives of His followers and the reality of a day-to-day experience of peace is something that I believe many believers struggle with. It leads to frustration, heart-break and a sense of failure; and yet, I believe understanding the true nature of God’s peace unlocks the reason for such painful incongruencies.
The Dual Nature of Peace
You see, the peace of God has a dual nature. It is both a passive and an active thing. The God-sourced-fountain that is available to all believers is the passive part of peace. It is the gift portion, the part we have nothing to do with. It is simply there–an offer made–a fountain flowing. But here is the problem, I believe the reason so few Christians experience this unshakeable peace is because they expect this passive part of peace to transform their lives.
They read about God’s peace, they hear it sung and spoken about, and sit idly by waiting for it to bubble up within their souls. When nothing happens they lose faith… grow weary and disgruntled. Anxiety, fear, worry continue to mark their lives as radically as they do the lives of unbelievers. No difference. No victory. And I would dare say, no wonder. Because while they have acknowledged the passive portion of God’s peace, they have completely ignored the active side to God’s peace. Yes, the source of the peace is available passively to all; but the obtaining of it, the drinking of it, requires diligence. It requires purposeful action. It demands something on our part. Biblical peace may begin passively, but there it dies unless we are willing to act on it.
Read the words of Christ again in John 14: 26. Jesus offers His peace, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you…” Now comes the demand on our end, “Let not your heart be troubled; neither let it be afraid.” The first portion of that verse lays out the offer. It presents us with the passive gift. The second reveals the necessity of our response. While the peace is there waiting, it will do us no good unless we take it up–refusing to let our hearts be troubled to allow ourselves to be afraid.
Philippians 4:6-7 speaks more pointedly concerning the active element of Biblical peace saying, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Notice who is called to action: who is compelled to act first? Who is told to pray? As well as who is told to lay out requests and start on a campaign of thanksgiving? What follows this very deliberate list of activities? It is the peace of God–the mysterious, beyond understanding peace of God–bursting forth as a fortress around the mind of the obedient believer. Once again we see both the passive and active portion of the peace of God. God offers the former, and we must embrace our role in the latter.
You see, so often the reason for the lack of peace in our lives lies not where we think it does. We look around at painful circumstances that surround us – at the imperfections muddying up every detail of our world. Then we see the things we lack; the things that are missing. And we feel little wonder at our lack of peace. And the world concurs with us. “Of course you don’t have peace,” it says, “your life couldn’t possibly be peaceful at the moment!” Yet, as children of the God of peace, the details of our lives are not the reason for our lack of peace. The ugliness of our world, the uncertainty of the path ahead – these things cannot contaminate our source of peace. The fountain, you remember, is within us. The source, unstoppable. The God of peace is leaning near – offering living water, offering life, hope, peace.
Where then is the problem? It is with us. It is with our lack of obedience, our lack of diligence. The problem stems from our weak faith and our lack of thirst. We must want peace more; we must pursue peace more. We must also take up our role in obtaining peace and we must look to our assignment in the process of Biblical peace. Have we gone to battle against anxious thoughts? And have we cast them down one-by-one, bringing to mind instead the promises of our God? Have we systematically, daily spent time in prayer, petition and thanksgiving? Or have we refused to strengthen ourselves in the truths of God’s promises – memorizing and meditating on them? Finally, have we simply waited for a peace of God that comes by osmosis, a peace that spontaneously bursts into our lives.
He is There for You
The truth is… it can’t and it won’t. Oh, my friends – my hurting friends – I know it is difficult. I know your days are dark. The pain and weariness of it all can be crushing at times. However, if I could take you by the hands and look into your eyes at this moment, I would tell you, “Dear friend, God’s peace is there for you. Believe Him and believe in the fountain that has sustained thousands before you and can sustain you too.” Believe in the fountain, believe in the God of Peace and take up your cup. Do the work, the tedious, purposeful work of daily bringing the cup of God’s peace to your lips. Act on His peace. Move towards it. Do not sit by the fountain and thirst. Labor for the drink and be filled.
If you are seeking support through prayer, please visit our Prayers for You page. We invite you to allow us to pray for you… for your heartache, for your family, for your future or whatever is pressing down on your soul today.