Summary: The steps Paul points out to finding peace, the peace of God that transcends all understanding.
You may be familiar with this passage from Philippians you may even be familiar with some of the content of the sermon as I preached on this passage as part of the ‘tools of the faith series’ half way through last year, this sermon however is a bit different due to our current circumstances. I think we can all do with this reminder about finding, ‘The Peace of God’. I’d like to say that as someone who’s been living as a Christian for two thirds of my life that I’ve got it completely sussed, that when it comes to tools of the faith I never forget to use the right one and that I know just how to use it. BUT!
Mate you’d worry sheep, they shoot dogs that worry, you’d be a worry, “your middle names not ‘Worry’ is it”, don’t be such a worry wart, Don’t worry you’ve got plenty of time, money, help, advice! These are all comments that at some stage or other have been aimed at me. Now this was probably because I’ve over the years had a few worries, caused a few worries and I’ve worried, and been anxious quite a lot.
Worry is an interesting thing the English word ‘worry’ comes from an Anglo-Saxon word that means “to strangle”, not a nice thought really.
Did you know that if we get anxious, which is according to Wikipedia ‘worry with an emotional content’. Physically three things happen: we start to sweat, our heart rates increase and there’s a rise in blood pressure. Straight up it’s not good for us to worry!
Well even the saints of old were not immune to these things. Paul writes to the Philippians about not being anxious, which when we look at the Greek word means ‘worry or concern’ because like all real people they had real issues going on in their lives.
Real issues authentic worries, they had them; even looking at the life of Paul we see that he went through a whole lot of persecution, here’s a bloke who for his witness for Jesus, his faith in God, had been imprisoned, flogged, had thirty nine lashes five times, been beaten with rods, stoned and ship wrecked in his journeys. Paul this bloke who had originally persecuted the Church, was willing to go through all this because of the Grace he had found in God through Jesus, here’s Paul a bloke who was living in constant danger and at the time of his writing this letter to the Philippians was under house arrest.
Things for Paul were often pretty miserable. Paul was a bloke who before meeting the Risen Saviour had it all, he had a useful trade, was a student of a leading Rabbi, which made him a Rabbi in his own right, he was part of a social strata that ensured success ‘a Pharisee’, a Roman citizen with all the privileges that that brought. Yet he was willing to put all that aside after encountering the Risen Jesus on the road to Damascus.
A man who had somehow discovered something in Jesus that trumped all those other things, this Jesus, the risen Saviour had taken all those big ticket items and made them pale into insignificance. This top flight gent was willing to become a nomad preacher for Jesus. What was it that he had found in Jesus that made him willing to do this?
I think there were quite a number of things; if you read his letters this becomes evident. But the one thing I am going to talk about today is peace, ‘The Peace of God!’
How did Paul find it, how did he instruct others to find this peace of God, a peace that transcends all understanding?
Transcends, lets have a wee look at that word for a start, it’s a word that in Greek means the same as what it does in English with a bit extra. In English it’s means beyond a limit that humans can grasp, an emotion beyond our grasp, to rise above or exceed. In the Greek it has this thing even beyond that, a governing authority, a greatness, and a thing that is better than the best. Transcends.
The steps to getting there, post earthquakes, post knowing the state of the Christchurch CBD, that some of us know people injured or killed last week, that we have damage, that some have lost their livelihoods, that things will take a long time to return to some sort of normal.
Philippians 4:4-6 gives the steps, among all this to finding the peace of God:
1) Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say again: Rejoice! (vs. 4)
2) Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. (vs. 5)
3) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (vs.6)