The Peace of God
“Peace I leave you...Peace I give to you.” John 14:27
Thumbing through a daily devotional, I found an intriguing article that asked the reader a probing question: “Are you ever troubled?” Chuckling to myself, I thought the complete opposite, “When are we ever without trouble?” As you would expect the relevance to what is going on in today’s world caught my attention. This inquiry came from Oswald Chambers’ classic, My Utmost for His Highest, written over 100 years ago. Serving as a YMCA chaplain to the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in World War 1; Chambers was assigned to the Mediterranean Theater, specifically Eqypt. Chambers not only knew of trouble in his world; he lived it and would die in it. During the disastrous Gallipoli campaign in Turkey, Chambers developed an acute peritonitis which required immediate surgery. Due to the overwhelming casualties that were coming from the action in Turkey, Chambers refused treatment until all soldiers who needed care received it. His actions would cost him his life at a very young age. Despite dying so young, Chambers left us with some wise thoughts for difficult times.
“Trouble” is a word that we too are all familiar with. Just one look at the news and we see that trouble seems to be a daily companion. The question that Chambers asked involved re-defining our expectations. “Peace” is a word we hear just as often as the solution to trouble. But we really don’t know what peace means, do we? Many questions remain: how do we find peace, how do we maintain peace, and how do we implement it? Peace does not mean the absence of strife or conflict. Consider the peace promised by Christ juxtaposed to his predication that in this world we will have trouble and tribulation. How do we understand this apparent contradiction? What Chambers was saying is that “peace” simply goes beyond just an undefined term; it asks the greater question: in whom do we find peace? Chambers noted that “there are times in our own lives when our peace is based on simple ignorance.” Clearly this is not the peace Jesus Christ speaks of in scripture, nor should we seek or trust this.
The question that often arises is this: if Christ promises tribulation and trials, how can we ever find peace? This is how Chambers put it: When we are awakened to the realities of life, true inner peace is impossible unless it is received from Jesus. When our Lord speaks peace, He creates peace, because the words that he speaks are always “spirit” and they are life. - John 6:63
Chambers follows up by asking a very pertinent question: Have you ever received that peace? Do you have the peace of Jesus Christ that exceeds all understanding? How does one obtain that peace? True peace comes from looking into the very face of Christ and understanding and receiving that peace. The question many ask is how do I do that? What does it mean to “look into the eyes of Jesus?” It starts with a right heart, a right attitude and a right frame of mind. In all the confusion, the questions and uncertainty, can you look at Christ and find comfort and security? Can you abandon all your earthly confidences and just reach out in faith? Chambers defines this process of approaching Christ as a sign of “being right with God.” What does he mean? Just by doing that act of turning to Christ for help, support, assurance and peace is a sign that you belong to God, since this very notion is not possible for those who do not believe.
In Hebrews 12:2, we are instructed to “press on” while jettisoning all that inhibits us in our relationship with Christ. Are we too cluttered with the junk of human confidences? Can we clean out the world’s values that we so stubbornly hold onto God’s grace alone? Clinging to the world’s values, and its treasures, are the greatest reasons for much anxiety, stress and trouble in today’s world. As we have been seeing for months, these things can fail us and then where do we turn?
Obtaining the peace of God is an act of faith. It requires us to step out of self-reliance while turning to Christ with nothing but our faith and His promises. That is a scary proposition. Yet it is what we must do to be people of God and to find the peace Christ promises us. Can you do it? Start slowly, surrender each situation to the authority of Christ in your life. If you apply Christ to the little things, you will see how your faith will be increased to surrender the big things to the Lord! Let Jesus take charge; trust in God’s promise: … “God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Yours in Christ,