As it has always been, our world is in a state of almost constant conflict. Scripture speaks of “wars and rumors of wars.” Because of sin, peace has always been an elusive commodity.
But many people want to live without continual fighting and seek peace with their neighbors. God wants us to understand the importance of peace in three general areas.
First, peace with God is important. (Well, that’s an understatement, if there ever was one!) Peace with God should be the first and foremost topic of those concerned about peace. After all, God is the most important factor in any effort to achieve harmony and contentment. The dramatic upswing in the interest shown in God after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 demonstrated that many people in the country recognized — perhaps were driven — to this realization.
Peace with God is made possible because of his loving commitment to us, and through our reliance on him. Perhaps no single passage says this so well as this favorite: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." The Bible's teaching is clear regarding the means by which we can have peace with God. Then — and only then — can we experience the joy of knowing peace with the God of peace.
Second, though some deny it by their actions, peace with others is important. When we know peace with God, we have the means to seek and maintain peace with others. No one else has solved, or is able to solve, the problem of broken relationships with others.
Whether in the church, the family, or any human relationship, God wants men to live in peace. Man's first home, the garden of Eden, was a tranquil place of beauty and peace, where every conceivable need was met in a joyous relationship with God the creator. But, beginning with the defensive finger-pointing of Adam against his wife Eve ("The woman you put here with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it" Genesis 3:12) and the murder of Abel by his brother Cain, the history of man is one long record of hostility at one level or another.
There is one — and only one — lasting solution for the conflict and lack of peace among men. Simply put, that solution is the acceptance of the principles and values found in Jesus Christ.
Third (and this may be the easiest to lose), there is peace with ourselves.
God cares about peace of mind for his children. Philippians 4:6-7 is one of the most familiar Bible passages on the topic of peace with ourselves: “...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."
The Lord wants to bless us, and has given us the secret of a life full of joy in passages like these:
Psalm 37:11 — “...the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.”
Psalm 119:165 — “Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.”
John 14:27 — “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.”
As children of God, we can enjoy peace with ourselves for a lot of reasons stated in scripture. Here are just three of them for you to think about: (1) We are inhabited by the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:19); (2) "God...comforts the downcast." (2 Corinthians 7:6); (3) We can "set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything" (1 John 3:20).
As we continue in the brand new year of 2018, may the Lord help us to know and be blessed by peace with him, with others and with ourselves. Amen!