Summary: Let's talk about the Christian concept of peace, then the negative emotions of upset and how to deal with them (Material adapted from book by Robert Roberts called Spiritual Emotions, chapter on peace)
Two painters were commissioned to paint a picture of peace. The first chose for his canvass a scene of tranquillity of a still lake among beautiful far off mountains. The second threw across his canvass a thundering waterfall with a fragile little tree suspended over the foam. There at the fork of the branch, dampened by the spray, sat a robin on its nest. The first picture was one of “stagnation.” The second one of “peace.” Talking about Christian peace tonight.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace” Galatians 5:22, NIV.
A major attraction of many of the therapies and philosophies of today are of achieving a sense of peace, a relief from anxieties, fears and griefs, anger, guilt, and a sense of inadequacy. Such negative emotions are not only upsetting; they cause our work to suffer, our relationships to be poor, and our bodies to react with sickness. With all the anti anxiety and anti depressant drugs, anger and grief counseling, a good question needs to be asked, “Where is all the peace?” Peace is promised but rarely achieved.
During his ministry Jesus was meeting distraught, troubled, anxious, worried, fearful, and disturbed people. When they met with Jesus, many of them experienced peace. Jesus would heal them and they would have peace. Or they would listen to his teachings and experience peace like with his teaching here: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29, NIV. Before he went to the cross, Jesus said to his disciples, ““Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:1, 27, NIV.
Now, “tranquility,” or “contentment” or “calm” is not always the way that people experienced peace in response to Jesus’ words and actions. The peace that Zacchaeus found was an excited peace, a joyful, grateful state that led him to action. To the morally and spiritually complacent, Jesus did not bring calm, but upset: “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.” Luke 12:51, NIV. It is a safe guess that he raised the anxiety level of the rich young ruler and others who witnessed this event. Many of his parables aim to disturb the religious, and Jesus certainly did not promote feelings of peace in the money changers he drove with a whip from the Temple courtyard. The ideal person is not always calm.
Thesis: Let’s talk about the Christian concept of peace, then the negative emotions of upset and how to deal with them
Peace in the NT is referring to one of 4 things:
1. Our relationship with God. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” Romans 5:1, NIV.
2. Accompanying the first, peace can refer to the state of a Christian’s soul. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15, NIV.
3. Sometimes peace is talking about the status of a human relationship. “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:3
4. This last one ties in with the OT idea of peace, “Shalom.” Biblical concept of shalom can be defined as flourishing, wholeness, and delight. More than just the absence of conflict but that all the pieces of life fit together.
Unfulfilled in the OT, is that true, lasting peace comes through Jesus Christ. ““Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”” Luke 2:14, NIV. Shalom is centered on human beings living in intimacy with God and by God’s looking on them with joy and blessing them with the fruits of righteousness. This is called peace because it is the opposite of the opposition and hostility between God and humanity that Christ’s incarnation, ministry, death, and resurrection are intended to overcome. Shalom is also marked by relationships of love and respect and mutual helpfulness among human beings that reflect the character of their Father, the opposite of the hostility and division from which Christ came to save us. “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.” Ephesians 2:14-16, NIV.