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Article 8

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Peaceful living and peacemaking

 

 

The fruit of the Spirit

The apostle Paul in Galatians talks about the fruit of the Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

When we walk through the countryside we usually see trees across the landscape. As we look at each tree, we can identify the type of tree it is by the fruit it bears. God does the same observation and identification with us. Our behaviour shows to him what type of person we are. The fruit of the Spirit verses show what attributes we need to develop to be pleasing to God (and be good Christians).

One of these fruits is peace.

The apostle Paul saw this fruit of the Spirit as being particularly important as he began most of his New Testament letters with the greeting “Grace and peace to you”.

There will be peace in God's future kingdom:

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.

Isaiah 11:6

Peace versus confrontation

Unfortunately, through the centuries many who say they are followers of Jesus have not followed Bible teaching in regards to peaceful living. The Bible advises that Christians should live peaceful lives:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

1 Timothy 2:2 ESV

All parts of a Christian’s life should come under the Bible teaching of peaceful living. So people who live in this way will avoid violent confrontations. When they preach to others, they will communicate in a peaceful and not a quarrelsome nature.

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone

Hebrews 12:14 NIV

The Christians will therefore try to live a peaceful life. But he/she will try to find ways to spread such peace to those around them.  In relation to this, Jesus said these words:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9 ESV

The apostle Peter also advised:

let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it 1 Peter 3:11 ESV

Does peaceful living mean no lifetime troubles?

Those who follow God will find that their lives will not necessarily be free of trouble. Nor will they find that there will be no persecution in their lives – there may be persecution… God gives no guarantee that you will avoid these things. If we look at the New Testament we can see this to be the case. There were many believers who were mistreated or even killed. The Christians often fled to other places and went on preaching, and lived peaceful lives.

And Saul approved of his execution.

And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Acts 8: 1 – 4 ESV

When we think about peacefulness in the life of a disciple of Jesus, it means more than the absence of war or violence. It also tells us that the promises of God are sure and certain. It is confidence that if the Christians continues to believe this hope, that he/she will receive a future inheritance as a gift from God.

How do we find peace?...through prayer

So, we want to have peace in our lives, what does the Bible tell us about finding peace. The apostle Paul tells us that we can find peace through prayer:

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 6-7

Worry and anxiety are difficult emotions to completely avoid in our lives. But when we think about it, the only thing they achieve is ill-health. However, if we put our trust fully in God (through believing in the Gospel and then baptism into the name of Jesus), then as sons and daughters of God we are given a great privilege. This privilege is prayer – where we can, through Christ, call upon God as our Father. We can be reassured that God will know what is best for us. If we present our problems and worries before Him, then we can be confident that whatever happens is for our benefit. Sometimes what happens may not be what we want, but Paul tells us that:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

This is how we achieve peace of mind. Just think about a small child – when that child can hold onto its father’s hand when there is danger at hand. The danger may not go away, but the child gets confidence and comfort from the strength of the father. We can be like that child. However, we must not expect that a prayer will remove all trials, all danger, all suffering. These things are part of the world we live in – a place which is struggling under the consequences of sin. Indeed, God wants us to learn to cope with all situations in His strength. This is the secret of peace in our lives – that we will not be left alone in any situation, as long as we keep our hand in the hand of God.

So prayer is the great antidote for anxiety. If we pray before and seek the guidance and blessing of God, then He will bring the request to pass if it be “according to His will”. In these circumstances, God will give us the answer and there will no need for anxious thoughts from us.

How do we find peace?....through obedience

Peace cannot be manufactured – it is something that will naturally come to you through faith. As we saw in the previous paragraphs, one way we show faith is through prayer. But there is a secret to making peace grow naturally inside you – that is obedience. The more you obey, the more it develops. And in reverse – the more you disobey, the more it tends to disappear. The prophet Isaiah knew this when he recorded these words:

There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.” Isaiah 57:21

Peace created through redemption

Jesus made peace by reconciling the Christian to God through his death.

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. Ephesians 2:14-18

The baptised have peace because they are justified from sin through the Lord Jesus.

…and through him [Jesus Christ] to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.  Colossians 1:20

As the children of God, they are privileged because of the care and attention that is upon them.  With these thoughts in-mind they find comfort and peace. They know that because of their faith, it is their Heavenly Fathers intention to redeem them.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Romans 5:1

The man or woman who has become a son or daughter of God through baptism, finds a peace that is just not possible for those of the world who have made no such commitment.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  John 14:27

The apostle Paul tells us that Christ’s peace goes beyond all comprehension. Christ goes on to say that the peace he offers cannot possibly be given by the world and nor can it be taken away by the world. He tells the Christian to not be afraid and to not let his/her heart be troubled. This is the ultimate and reassuring message to the Christian.

The prophet Isaiah who lived many centuries prior to the time of Paul also knew that peace comes through being a son/daughter of God.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3 NIV 

You can attain not just peace but perfect peace, by putting your complete trust in God. For you realise that through His strength he offers you protection.

The Christian as a peace-maker

As we have seen, Jesus made peace by reconciling us to God through his death. But that is not the end of the peace-making. There is a requirement on us to live at peace with others around us.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:18

Paul knew the difficulty of always being at peace, and maintaining a conciliatory attitude to all. There is the example of Jesus publicly indicting the Pharisees in the court of the temple (Matthew 23). So times do occur when, as a first priority, the word of God must be defended, before bowing to the wishes of men. However, as Paul says, as far as possible we must seek to live peacefully with all men. This preservation of peace requires us to willingly self-sacrifice our own needs to maintain the greater peace. In other words, we need to make sure that we are not the source of the discord.

We must be peace-makers, not just the lovers of peace. In other words, this requires us to be active and not passive in creating peace around us.

and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. Ephesians 6:15

Conclusion

Jesus made peace by reconciling the Christian to God through his own death. We can experience this peace he made by being baptised and becoming a son/daughter of God.

We can find peace in our lives through prayer where we have the privilege of talking to God about those things which are troubling us. Ofcourse, to build this peace, we must be obedient to the Father who we are praying to.

But finding peace in our life is not just passive, it is very much active. We are to always be a peace-maker in our lives where we try to avoid being the source of the discord. To be a peace-maker may require self-sacrifice from us where our own personal needs are not met so that the greater peace is achieved.

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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 March 2015