The Peace of Christ
by Kim Reisman
World Methodist Evangelism
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT)
Last month we asserted that it is entirely possible for us to live out our faith in visible, tangible ways – that there are things we can do that indicate to the world that God is at the center of our lives. We explored the idea that people can witness God’s place in our lives through our behavior – all the decisions and actions of our daily lives.
But it’s not just our actions that show how God fits into our lives, it’s the way we carry ourselves as well. When we have a strong connection between our faith and our daily lives, our lives will be marked by an inner sense of peace. This peace isn’t the same as a life without problems. Like the joy we discussed a few months ago, this inner peace depends not on our outer circumstances; but on an awareness of the reality of our salvation and the confidence that God will meet our needs.
The disciples are excellent examples of the inner nature of peace. As their experience with Jesus unfolded, through his ministry, his death, and his resurrection, the disciples were never exempted from the difficulties in life. Their peace was not an external experience. On the contrary, they endured prison, interrogations, beatings, and were even martyred as a result of their faith. Thus, the peace that marks a life of faith is an interior one, the gift Jesus promised his disciples when he said, “I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27 NLT)
The problem is that there is a huge gap between what we profess and how we live. Like keeping our joy hidden, we don’t live as people with an internal sense of peace. We may claim to have abundant life, but the way we live doesn’t provide much evidence. We may insist that we are confident that God will provide for us, but the reality of our panic at the first sign of trouble says otherwise. It’s one thing to talk about peace; it’s quite another to claim it in the face of tragedy. That’s why peace is such an important fruit to foster as we seek to follow Jesus. By cultivating the peace of Christ, we close the gap between what we profess and how we live.
In October, WME provided an evangelism seminar in Romania that was attended by Christians from several Eastern European countries, including Ukraine. The Ukrainians who joined us had found refuge in Romania when their cities were overtaken by Russian troops. Yet they didn’t consider themselves refugees. Instead, they saw themselves as missionaries, faithfully showing and sharing the love of Jesus in difficult days. They sang the words “I raise a hallelujah…in the presence of my enemies” with sincere courage and joy. Inner peace radiated from them, as that refrain was transformed from poetic words of praise into genuine words of truth and power.
These Ukrainian Christians closed the gap between the claim of peace and an actual experience of it by focusing on Jesus. That’s our task as well. We remember his example, his words, his life and ministry. We remember the gift of his sacrifice on our behalf and the gift of new, abundant, and eternal life that sacrifice affords us. As Paul said, “Since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” (Romans 5:1, NLT)
We close the gap between our claims of peace and our actual experience of it by doing God’s will as well. Jesus said, “If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.” (John 14:15-17, NLT)
Faithful obedience is crucial to the nurture of peace. God desires us to live out our faith in the real world, not retreat from it or practice our faith in a vacuum. Therefore, God needs room to move in our lives, to act and direct us in ways that only God can know. No matter how deeply we believe we know God, we will never know God well enough to predict how God will act or what God is going to demand of us. Obedience is our necessary response. Through our obedient response and our determination to keep our mind stayed on Jesus, we will foster Christ’s peace, and others will be able to see that peace reflected in our lives.
As you pray and fast this month, reflect on whether there might be something missing from your life. Is something robbing you of peace? In a few weeks we will welcome the Prince of Peace as we celebrate Christmas. Moving ever closer to that celebration, I pray you will keep your hearts and minds stayed on Jesus, doing all that you can to keep your relationship with Christ alive and vibrant. In that way we will be able to raise our hallelujahs with truth and power.