My favorite time of the day has always been the very early morning when the house is quiet except for the soft breathing of family members still sleeping, the sun peeking over the horizon, birds just beginning to sing, sipping coffee and just enjoying the tranquility of that time before the bustle of the day begins. When my children were young, this time helped me to prepare emotionally for the eventual chaos. Today it is a time of reflection on days past, a time of communication with God through prayer, scripture and meditation, and a reminder of the hope that we have in Christ. It is this time of day when I feel most peaceful.
The world defines peace as never having problems, chaos or wars, but peace, as it’s expressed Biblically, actually refers to having a restored and unified relationship with God. In her blog titled Shalom: PEACE- Restoring a Relationship with God, Face to Face, Sarah Fisher shares this definition and explains how this is seen in both the old and new testaments. In Ezekiel 37:26 Yahweh declares that He will make an everlasting covenant of peace with the Hebrew people. Isaiah 9:6 tells us that the Messiah is the Prince of Peace. In Colossians 1:20 Paul tells us that Jesus made that peace possible by shedding His blood on the cross. In John 14:27 Jesus tells us that He has given us peace.
In the book of Hebrews we are taught that Jesus is the mediator of that new covenant – the covenant of peace. Jesus has made it possible for us to see God’s Glory and to have a personal relationship with Him!
As I was thinking about how to approach writing about peace as a slice of the fruit of the Spirit, I thought about the change that has come over my soul during my years with Christ. How I have been filled with His peace every time I carry a problem to Him and completely give it over to Him. I have peace with my past and know that my sins have been forgiven. But the true fruit, the most difficult perhaps, is being at peace in our relationship with others.
Jesus taught that there would be conflict if we follow Him. Following Him means emulating His words and actions. And He told us that if we did this the world would hate us like it hated Him. Does this sound like the worldly definition of peace?
It is here I think I struggle the most because I fall into the trap of thinking that being at peace with others means I should have no conflict with them, and that’s just not a daily reality, especially if I’m living a biblical life. Oh how many times I have reacted poorly in a difficult situation! Exhibiting not peace, but frustration or anger which only makes the situation even more difficult. I’m learning that at the first sign of discord I need to stop and ask God to guide my words and actions, and thank Him for the opportunity to share His Glory through the situation. When I do that my actions and words change dramatically; I remember scriptural examples of how to respond gently both in word and action. I wish I could say that I never react poorly – I can’t – but I can say that with each opportunity I am leaning more on God and less on me.
Consider Phil 4:4-7. We are to rejoice in the Lord, to be gentle, and to pray with thanksgiving in all situations and God’s Peace will guard our hearts and minds. When we pray about difficulties and conflicts, are we expecting deliverance from instead of peace in the situation? Are we thankful for the experience and God’s guidance through it? I feel like this is really a key point to understand. It is when we have peace in the difficult situations that we can exhibit the fruit of peace through our actions and words.
Having peace, and exhibiting the fruit of peace, does not mean we won’t have conflict. It means that we have a relationship with God and that we trust in Him to guide us in everything, and that our daily lives are evidence of that relationship.
My prayer is that each of us will grow in our relationships with God so that we will be known by our fruit – that we everyone who encounters us will see that we are different, that we are God’s children.