“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” -Martin Luther King Jr.
Lately I've been begging and pleading with God for peace. Maybe you can relate. Whether it's busy-ness, every day stress, additional stress, worry and anxiety, agitation, angst, anger, discouragement or depression, many of us would just like some peace of mind. Or maybe a mere five minutes of peace and quiet.
When I get stressed out, I return to Paul's letter to the Philippians. Lately I've been begging & pleading with God to grant me peace. I ask Him for it as one of the fruit of His Spirit; "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness & self-control." (Galatians 5:22-26). I've even asked Him to guard my heart and mind with His "peace which transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
But today, as often happens, God helped me see that I've been getting things wrong.
I've been making the mistake of thinking I have to be ready for God. Thinking that I have to be good enough for Him. Imagining that there's something I have to do different. As if there's anything I could do to become good enough for Him.
Leave it to a crusty old Lutheran preacher to help me recognize that it's not about me, it's always about God.
See, the peace Paul's talking about in his epistle to the Philippians isn't the calm or lack of stress that so many of we Westerners think that life is all about. It's a cessation of hostilities in our war with God.
"Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior." Colossians 1:21
I can be at peace with God, instead of waging war with Him, because of what His Son Jesus did for me on the cross. Like Doctor King's quote at the top of this post, peace is not an ends to be attained or acquired by us and for us. How shallow and selfish would that be?
Peace is a means by which we reach other ends. Peace is not a destination, it is the starting point. Maybe that's why when he's describing the armor of God in Ephesians 6, Paul talks about having our "feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace (v.15)."
Because Jesus already won the peace, we can approach God's throne with boldness (Hebrews 4:16 & Ephesians 3:12). We can have a confidence which only comes from Him.
With that in mind, we should want to PRACTICE peace. As Paul directs in Philippians 4:5, "Let your gentleness (peace) be evident to all."
"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:18
"Make every effort to live in peace with everyone...." Hebrews 12:14a
It may sound more Buddhist than Christian to talk about how we should "practice peace" and to live from a place of peace. Our more temporal, materialistic, Western worldview still thinks that peace is something we want for us, not somewhere we operate from when interacting with others."May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13
If you'd like to explore Philippians more, visit my old blog: