Summary: Real peace starts and ends with Christ: Stand right on Christ, and be right with each other; then pray right, think right, and do right as you depend on Him.
The monks at a remote monastery deep in the woods followed a rigid vow of silence. Their vow could only be broken once a year – on Christmas – by one monk. That monk could speak only one sentence. One Christmas, Brother Thomas had his turn to speak and said, “I love the delightful mashed potatoes we have every year with the Christmas roast!” Then he sat down. Silence ensued for 365 days.
The next Christmas, Brother Michael got his turn and said, “I think the mashed potatoes are lumpy, and I truly despise them!” Once again, silence ensued for 365 days.
The following Christmas, Brother Paul rose and said, “I am fed up with this constant bickering!” (Strive to Humor daily e-mail list, 12-19-01; www.PreachingToday.com)
Peace is hard to come by even in a monastery deep in the woods. So how can we hope to find any real peace in the real world, which is so full of trouble and turmoil? How can we hope to find that stillness of heart, that tranquility of soul, which leads to harmony in our relationships? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Philippians 4, Philippians 4, where the Bible tells us how to find real peace in the midst of trouble.
Philippians 4:1 Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. (ESV)
In the context, don’t stand firm on your past achievements; don’t focus on your own accomplishments. Instead, focus on the Lord and so stand firm in Him.
You see, when we stand on our past achievements, it creates a lot of pressure to keep up the momentum to outdo yourself each time and to outdo others, as well. However, when you stand on the Lord, it frees you up to be who God made you to be and to pursue His unique high calling for you, no matter what anybody else says or does. So, if you want to find real peace, first of all, you have to…
You have to stand firm on Christ. You have to remain grounded in Him.
On May 7, 1915, the R.M.S Lusitania, a British ocean liner, was struck by a torpedo from a German submarine. The ship sank in a matter of minutes, killing 1198 of the 1959 passengers aboard. In her book, Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy, Diana Preston recorded the observations of one of the passengers, a bookseller, named Charles Lauriat:
As the ship was sinking and as Lauriat looked around to see who needed life jackets, he noticed that among the crowds now pouring on deck nearly everyone who passed by him that was wearing a life jacket had it on incorrectly. In his panic, one man had thrust one arm through an armhole and his head through the other. Others rushed past wearing them upside down. No one had read the “neat little signs” around the ship telling people how to put them on. Lauriat tried to help, but some thought he was trying to take their life jackets from them and fled in terror.
Preston continues: “Dead and drowning people were ‘dotting the sea like seagulls.’ Many bodies were floating upside down because people had put their life jackets on the wrong way up… so that their heads were pushed under the water.” (Diana Preston, Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy, Berkley Trade, 2002, pp. 206, 246; www.PreachingToday.com)
That describes some people I know. Instead of letting the Lord help them in their trouble, they flee from Him in terror, trying to save themselves; and then they wonder why they’re drowning.
No! Real peace comes when you depend on the Lord, when you stand firm in Him, not yourself. First, you have to stand right. Then 2nd, you have to…
That is, you have to be right with each other. You have to live in harmony with your brothers and sisters in Christ. You have to agree with each other if you want to find peace.
Philippians 4:2-3 I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. (ESV)
Euodia and Syntyche (sometimes called “Odious” and “Too-soon-touchy”) were two sisters in the church who couldn’t get along. And Paul urges them to “agree in the Lord”, literally, to think the same, to be of one mind, to focus on the same goal.
You see, their disagreements were creating turmoil in the church and hindering the forward progress of the Gospel. They were not focused on Christ. They were focused on their own preferences, and peace flew out the window!