During the holidays, the word everyone both secular and religious seems to leap on is “peace”—specifically peace on earth, and good will as spoken by the angel at the birth of Christ (Luke 2:14).
Why is peace such an important subject? For many, it’s because they recognize the dearth of peace throughout the world. Chaos finds us irrespective of age, race, gender, creed, career, etc. Everyone could use a little more peace in their lives. But there are numerous times that the perfect truth of Scripture makes it clear—simple human “peace” is not enough. We need a heavenly peace that passes understanding in order to experience true soul-rest in contentment and security.
Before Jesus ascended to the Father’s right hand, one of the last things he gave to his followers was peace. In fact, he emphasized that he was leaving his peace with them, and not as the world gives it (John 14:27). In Philippians 4:7, Paul exhorts the reader that, specifically through our union with Christ, we will have peace that passes understanding. When the Book of Isaiah listed the attributes of the then-future Messiah, one of them was that he would be the prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6). The braiding together of perfect peace and the presence of Christ has quite literally been a highlight of his very existence since the angel first announced his birth to the shepherds in Luke 2.
This aspect of Jesus’ purpose and character is driven home again in Ephesians 2, where Paul speaks of the union of Jews and Gentiles in Christ. Emphasis is placed on the fact that Jesus Christ is our peace in this context—the sense of unity in the spirit and peace among Christians comes through Jesus and not by our own sense of these things. And why not?
Because it can’t. Because our concept of peace is limited by our fallen state. Because we often think of peace as something we can hold only with those who see eye-to-eye with us, or who live up to our standards, or by some other arbitrary delineation. We are incapable of experiencing true peace personally or interpersonally if it does not come through the scope of Christ—his teachings, his dealings, and how he works with us all.
Jesus brought a new sense of peace to the world. He died on the cross, opening a path to perfect peace in union with him, and through him, with the Father. He also encourages his followers to live peaceably among others as much as they can, even going so far as to love their enemies and to pray for those who persecute them! Notice that having peace in Christ does not mean we will be free of trouble—it’s broader and more beautiful than that. It’s that even in times of distress, doubt, persecution and struggle, we can still be peaceful with our trust firmly placed in Christ and in God.
So when you’re feeling troubled, particularly if you are living in a state of contention with a fellow believer, ask yourself whose peace you’re truly relying on: your own, or the peace of Christ? Are you upholding him as your peace, or striving for a personal sense of solace and unity that comes through the human perspective—the peace the world tries to offer?
Jesus gave us many examples in his teachings here on earth of how to live peaceably with one another despite our differences, and with those currently outside the Body of Christ. He also speaks with us through the holy spirit dwelling in us. He can and will show you the path to peace through him, who is himself our peace.
And what peace there is in knowing we do not have to strive for these things alone.