Friday, May 16, 2008
I used to be one of those people who was worried if I couldn't think of anything I should be worrying about. I've lost plenty of sleep over the years simply because I was trying to solve problems I knew, if I was honest, I didn't have the answers to. Peace was not a natural state for me; anxiety was my dominant emotion. That is a very stressful way to live.
Source of Peace
This verse in Ephesians states clearly that Christ is our peace. Just as John's statement that God is love (1 Jn 4:8) means so much more than God being loving and demonstrating love, so Paul's comment is full of depth of meaning. If we have God in our lives, we know love. If we have Jesus, we know peace. Jesus is our Prince of Peace (Is 9:6). One aspect of the fruit of the Spirit is peace (Gal 5:22). The Lord promised to leave us with peace (Jn 13:27).
If we think about what these verses mean we will see that peace is something that has been gifted to us when we put our trust in the Lord Jesus. Firstly, our salvation means that we have peace with God. A consequence of that is that we can live in peace and harmony with our brothers and sisters, though that sometimes does not appear to be the case. But it also means that we can have peace with ourselves and our circumstances. So why is it that we do not experience the reality of peace in our daily troubles?
Pray for Peace?
It seems to me that we make a mistake when we try to obtain peace by praying for it. What's the point of asking for something we've already been given. What we need to do is unpack the gift and make use of it. The Lord Jesus told His disciples that when they faced the inevitable troubles of the world they should cheer up! (Jn 16:33) Facing difficulties with a positive attitude requires an act of the will, to make a decision that they are not going to distress us or cause us to lose our peace.
In 1 Pet 3:10-12, Peter quotes David who says, "whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days ... seek peace and pursue it (Ps 34:12-14). We have access to peace, but we need to take the time to practice living in it. We must take captive the anxious thoughts (2 Cor 10:5) and refocus them in the opposite direction to think about positive things (Phil 4:8).
I said earlier that praying for peace is mistaken. Why then am I writing about it on Prayer College? The reason is simple. If Jesus is our peace and we want to access that peace for ourselves, we need to spend time in His presence and dwelling on his character. The "whatever"s of Phil 4:8 could be replaced with "whoever" for they are all descriptive of the nature of the Lord. The more time we spend cultivating our relationship with Him and learning to walk with Him as we go through our daily tasks, the more peace we will find.
Prayer College Assignment
It's no good waiting until we feel anxious before we start seeking peace through the Lord Jesus. Peace must be pursued and developed over time so that, when circumstances would tend to cause us stress, we already know how to step out of the negative feelings and into the experience of the peace of God. We need daily to give time to fellowshiping with Jesus so that when trouble comes we are practiced at fixing our eyes (Heb 12:2) on the One who is our peace.