Saturday, June 10, 2006

Fruit of the Spirit: Peace

Peace? Yeah, I remember peace. It's that feeling I get when I wake up in the morning. It's when the day seems all new and fresh - filled with possibilities. It's what arrives in large measure as I pray to God. He renews me. He touches my life. He reassures me. And, many times, He chastises me as He sets me (yet again) on the right path.

It's that feeling that hits its pinnacle as I cast my cares on God - tell Him all about my problems, ask Him what He's going to do about them, and then listen as He (yet again) reassures me that everything is going to be alright. And then tells me what I need to do.

And everything is just fine.

But then I get out of bed.

And get on that daily treadmill called life as I begin my daily hurried, rush-rush type behavior that sends me zooming through the house to iron my clothes, shower and run, run, run to my car to get to my bus stop on time.

And that feeling of peace slowly dissipates as I avoid crazy drivers who I am convinced are trying to kill me (okay, I may be one of those drivers on some days). And then I run to the bus stop so that I can hurry up and wait for my frequently (very) late bus. And my foot taps. And I rock from side to side. And once again fantasize about the joys of driving to work before high gas prices and high parking put those dreams (temporarily) on hold. But it's all good, right? (At least that's what I try to convince myself)

And that peace thing? I may regain it a bit later as I read my morning Word and listen to my 'Morning Joy' mix on my Ipod (cuz, no matter how late it is, the bus eventually shows up), but it quietly begins to fade into the background as I reach my stop, face my office building and start that long walk that takes me through security, up the elevators and to my anonymous 'pod'. My place in the world for the next eight hours (excluding lunch).

And that feeling of peace? It flickers out of existence as I go through eight hours of conflict, strife, tedium, trivial matters, frustration, faked bonhomie and relief as my day finally ENDS!

Peace.

Yeah, I'd like to have a little more of that. Wouldn't you?

I'd like to take a look at what the Bible says about peace, but not in anything approaching a typical manner. If I hear one more cliche about 'eace like a river' or 'peace in the midst of adversity', I think I will SCREAM. This is real life we are talking about, and it's rare that I feel anything initially other than anger in the midst of my own personal adversity. Sure, God, eventually gets through to me and I calm down, but if left up to my own instincts, I would be one sad and frustrated sister.

So I will be looking at a hands-on, clear-cut, practical application of this whole peace phenomenon. For my sake and for yours (so that you can hear me stop complaining about it). Okay - here we go.

Romans 14:17 has an intriguing take on peace to me. It says that "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. " (I talked about the 'joy' aspect in Fruit of the Spirit: Joy)
It seems to imply that not only is peace essential to the Christian walk, but it is actually part of the 'kingdom of God'. And what is the kingdom of God? Is it a place? Surprisingly, no. The first mention of this kingdom is in Matthew 6:33, where Jesus advises us to seek it first (before all other things). So, from this we can gather it's something we can find. Then Jesus talks about it in Matthew 12:28, where he says if he casts out devil, the kingdom of God is come upon us. So it seems to have a lot to do with the power of God. In Matthew 21:43, Jesus says that this kingdom can be taken away from us. So obviously it is not a tangible place or thing.

This 'kingdom of God' best corresponds to the 'power' of God. When we think of the God's power, we tend to think of all the miracles He performed, the plagues against the Egyptian Pharaoh, the parting of the Red Sea or Jesus healing lepers and the blind. But much of the 'power' of God is also contained in the power of salvation, the work and existence of the Holy Spirit, our righteousness through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the grace and mercy that He has given to us (time and again).

Jesus says in Mark 4:11 "And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:" So, as Christians, we are able to discern these mysteries, but to non-believers,it will always remain a mystery.

So how does peace play a role in all this? Paul said (in the above-quoted Romans 14:17), that the kingdom of God was, in part, made of peace (along with righteousness and joy). So, if the kingdom of God is the power of God and peace is one of its building blocks, then our having peace in our lives allows us to access the powerenables Wow! It endables us to be the conduit through which the Holy Spirit can work. To operate in our uniquely given spiritual gifts. To heal and to teach; prophesy and preach. Peace is an integral part of the working of the power of God in our lives.

I believe this to be true simply because when I don't have peace (defined by Strong's Concordance as quietness and rest), I don't hear from God. I don't clearly feel the touch of God and cannot clearly identify the leading of His Holy Spirit. So, peace is much more than having a 'restful' state of mind - it is the very gateway of our access to the power of God. Without peace, we cannot truly operate in our spiritual gifts or carry out the work of God.

That's deep.

I've always thought of peace simply as a state of mind, but from the above research, I see now that it is 1)a spiritual gift; 2)part of the kingdom of God and 3)the way we gain access the power of God. Definitely something I want to have.

So how do we get this 'peace'?

In John 14:26-27, Jesus first tells his apostles about the coming of the Holy Spirit and how He would comfort them. Then he tells them "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." So peace originates from God.

Romans 8:6 says that to be spiritually minded is life and peace. So, to have peace, we must be followers of the Holy Spirit (allowing Him to lead and guide us).

2 Corinthians 13:11 admonishes us to "Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you." 'Perfect' means "seek after perfection in knowledge, grace, and holiness, and in the performance of good works (John Gills Exposition of the Bible)", 'of good comfort' means to exhort (cheer up) and pray for others and live in peace means just that. So in order to obtain peace, we have to seek after God and maturity in our faith, do for others and live in peace with others.

And, finally, Philippians 4:6-7 says: "In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. (ASV)" So we have to stop worrying, let God know all that is in our hearts (and turn them over to Him), and peace will be ours.

I like that. I like not having to carry around my own concerns (driving myself and poor friends and family crazy). I like that God cares enough to listen to my supplications (which, for me, includes complaining, whining and the like). And I like the fact that in exchange for all my bad behavior, He gives me peace. I am definitely on the winning end of this bargain.

I know now that I am going to try harder to attain and maintain my own personal peace. How about you?

What have your experiences been with peace?

How do you think your daily 'peace' walk is faring?

Any other tips you can share with me and other readers about peace?

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5 comments:

Higher said...

Good Post.
I have learned that peace is much like love and joy, in the sense that they have to be cultivated. Most of the time we think of peace as the absence of trouble...which is not entirely accurate...the peace we have through the Holy Spirit exist in spite of trouble or adverse conditions. It would seem you have discovered the secret to keeping and maintaining peace...."Yeah, I remember peace. It's that feeling I get when I wake up in the morning. It's when the day seems all new and fresh - filled with possibilities. It's what arrives in large measure as I pray to God. He renews me. He touches my life. He reassures me. And, many times, He chastises me as He sets me (yet again) on the right path."
Our prayer time and the times we connect with God "cultivate" peace in our lives...maintaining that connection throughout the day and see your source of peace continually being renewed and refreshed.

ms mimi the mocha soulchild said...

I am still struggling with peace. Strikingly enough, what resonates most with me about peace is that it is different than the world gives; peace is not based on the external life, but our internal relationship with God.

The Bible subtly and overtly relates peace to trust. When we trust God, His nature, his plan and who he is, we easily have peace. When we try to figure things out on our own we have difficulties.

Sometimes I am better than others, but I am going to ask God to help me understand the true meaning of His peace.

Nappily Evah Aftah said...

The spoken Word of God gives me peace. When I'm able to quote God's Word to myself, when I'm feeling anxious or out-of-control, or restless, I begin to experience a peace, that defies logic — I should be trippin', but I've been "sedated" by the Holy Ghost. That's when I know I'm experiencing the peace that's not given by the world.

God's Word is quick and powerful, and the Holy Ghost will bring it to our rememberance(if we hide it in our hearts)when everything around us is falling apart.

sonya said...

Higher:

Yes - maintenance would definitely be the key (and I'll be so happy when I get there!). Some days are better than others. Some days I practically soar and other days it feels like my feet are glued to the ground. It would be nice to have more days of plain ol' 'okay'. Perhaps if I unglued myself from my Ipod, my computer, pointless conversations and negative thinking, I would get there a little faster!

P.S. - I have the hardest time posting to your blog sometimes - is it just me or are my security settings causing the problem?

Ms. Mimi:

I like that connection you made between peace and trust. I believe you are right - if we trusted God a little more, we'd have more peace in our lives. It is definitely something I will be thinking about.

Ms. Nappy:

Yes, I try to remember the Word as well. Many times I get trapped into wanting to revert back to my previous (negative) thinking, but slowly and surely, God is bringing me out of that. I truly try to rely on the Holy Spirit more on a daily basis, and hope that He will always keep me in my ways.

P.S. - I definitely have to catch up with you on one of your gatherings - I just discovered the link on your blog :)

Anonymous said...

One can have peace if one wants it and pursues it. The problem with most humans is that we tend to accept what the world gives us as opposed to focusing on what we want for ourselves. We have very little or no faith at all in our ability to access the peace that God has promised us.

When we begin to live our dreams (become independent) instead of accepting being a by-product of another's dream (slave to a job, relationship, religion...etc that someone created to fulfill their dreams)then we are one the way to finding "our" peace.