“I have said these things to you that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.”
Stressed? Anxious? Frustrated? Lost? Worried? Afraid? Chaotic? Busy? Tired?
In the past week have you used any of these words to describe your life?
What about the word “Peace”? How often have you described your day, your week, your life, as “peaceful,” “calm,” “contented”?
We long for peace, we hunger for it, but nothing in this world can offer it. We may know a momentary cessation of hostilities, but not an abiding peace. The vacation can only last so long, and you’re guaranteed to have a double load of work to do when you get back. Just when you’ve paid all the bills and balanced the checkbook, you know they’ve already printed next months bills. Don’t even try to turn the TV on; every five minutes there’s a new something to be afraid of.
Boy, aren’t I just a ray of sunshine?
Jesus, in His upper room discourse, reminds us all that in this life we will have tribulation. We have been warned. There will be sorrow (John 16:20). There will be struggles (Heb 12:4). If the world rejected Him, how will it treat those who follow Him (John 15:20)? We are called to take up our cross (Matt 16:24). When slapped, are are to turn the other cheek (Matt 5:39). As our hearts break for the lost, we will carry their burden before the Lord in prayer (Rom 9:1-3). As we strive for faithfulness we will wrestle with temptation and battle to put to death the old man (Col 3:5-17). We will suffer the fiery arrows of the enemy, we will face the opposition of the principalities and powers (Eph 6:10-18). Yes, indeed, all this world has to offer is tribulation.
But we are not to take what the world gives. We have a greater gift, the gift of Christ’s peace.
What is this peace?
The peace of Christ is this:
- In Christ we have peace with God because we have been reconciled through His blood.
- In Christ we have peace with one another, the dividing wall of hostility has been broken down.
- In Christ we have peace through our Sovereign King who reigns over His people.
- In Christ we have peace as our eternal security is guaranteed.
Jesus has come that we might have peace, a peace that endures, a peace that overcomes, a peace that does not waver.
Why then, do we seldom enjoy that peace? Why are we not filled with peace and joy in believing? While by no means a complete list, here are some thoughts:
Sometimes we don’t experience the peace of Christ because we are the cause of our own tribulation. There are times when we don’t stumble into sin, we dive in headfirst. We flirt with the flames of temptation, only to get burned by the fires of sin. We hold on to envy, anger, and our selfish desires and become the drama that we sought to avoid. There can be no peace when we take hold of sin.
Sometimes we don’t experience the peace of Christ because we are slow to faith and do not believe His promises. Doubts and despair are a disastrous combination, because they cause us to fix our eyes on the problems rather than the solution. When the waves are crashing around us, we look to the sea rather than Christ who has called us to walk with Him (Matt 14:30). We become practical atheists, we say we believe that Jesus has promised us peace, but we act like we are on our own.
Sometimes we don’t experience the peace of Christ because we don’t think His promise applies to our particular situation. When we tell ourselves that this thing we are facing is beyond Christ’s control, or too small for Christ to care about, what are we saying about our Savior? We forget that He is One who can “sympathize with us in our weakness… [because He] has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15). How does the old hymn go?
Oh what peace we often forfeit,
Oh what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry,
Everything to God in prayer.
So how do we return to the peace of Christ? His sermon in Mark 1:15 says it best, “Repent and believe in the gospel.”
Repent: Turn from your sin and to the Lord. Remember, when our hearts condemn us, “God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:19). To find peace we must turn from that which causes the strife, and rest in the grace of Christ.
And Believe: Christ has overcome all things. He has overcome, He is victorious. His victory is over every sin, every power, every dominion. There is nothing that He has not conquered. Abraham Kuyper once wrote, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” He has indeed overcome all things, so believe and rest in His peace to strengthen and comfort you in all things.
May the grace, and peace, of Christ rule in your hearts!