Summary: Some people think peace is the absence of problems, but it’s not possible to go through life without trouble and adversity.
This is the third message in my series on “Grace-fruit: Jesus living in me.” Today, we’re going to focus on the fruit of peace. Our text is Galatians 5:22-23 which says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
People talk about world peace, and that’s a noble goal. It’s always a good answer in a beauty contest. But according to an article in The New York Times, out of almost 4,000 years of recorded human history, there have only been about 200 years of peace—and those years of peace are just pauses for the armies to reload!
Ron Artest, a forward for the LA Lakers, was known as one of the most aggressive and violent players in the NBA. Hoping to change his reputation, in 2011, he legally changed his name to Metta World Peace. That didn’t change his behavior, though. Just two months ago he was ejected from a game for violently elbowing James Harden in the face. You can call yourself world peace, but unless you have Jesus in your heart, you’ll never find inner peace.
Is it possible to have true inner peace? I found a quote where a woman wrote: “My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished 2 bags of chips and a chocolate cake. I feel better already.”
A man was leaving church one Sunday and said to his pastor, “Your message today reminded me of the peace and mercy of God.” The pastor said, “Why, thank you.” The man said, “Don’t thank me. It was like the peace of God because it passed all understanding, and it was like the mercy of God because it seemed to endure forever!”
Some people think peace is the absence of problems, but it’s not possible to go through life without trouble and adversity. Job said, “Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7) Let’s start with a working definition of peace. “Peace is not the absence of problems; Peace is God’s gift of serenity in the midst of your problems.” We’ve all known people who crumbled under the pressures of life; that would be the reaction of most people, in fact. But we’ve also known people who went through the most painful and difficult trials life could hand them, yet they never seem to lose their peace. They never lose their sense of spiritual equilibrium. These are people who have discovered what it is to have the Spiritual Fruit of Peace. It’s not their peace. It’s the peace of Jesus, God’s gift of serenity, abiding in their personality.
In this message I want to present a case study on personal peace. It comes from an incident in the life of Simon Peter. In the early days of the church in Jerusalem, Peter was arrested and thrown in prison. He was scheduled to be executed the next day. “That’s when King Herod got it into his head to go after some of the church members. He murdered James, John’s brother. When he saw how much it raised his popularity ratings with the Jews, he arrested Peter—and had him thrown in jail, putting four squads of four soldiers each to guard him. He was planning a public lynching after Passover…Then the time came for Herod to bring him out for the kill. That night, even though shackled to two soldiers, one on either side, Peter slept like a baby.” (Acts 12:1-6 The Message)
This wasn’t the King Herod who was alive when Jesus was born; this was his grandson, Herod Agrippa. But like his grandfather, he was a cruel and violent man. He had James, the brother of John, beheaded. This made the Jewish leaders so happy that he decided to execute the ringleader of these Jesus-followers. He arrested Peter and threw him in prison; probably in the Roman headquarters in Jerusalem called the Citadel. He put him in chains, surrounded by sixteen soldiers. That’s like being on death row in a maximum-security wing of a prison. Now, how would you or I respond if we knew were going to die by execution in the morning? For most of us it would have been an episode of Sleepless in the Citadel. But Peter slept like a baby—now THAT’S inner peace!
The question that begs our attention from this incident is HOW could Peter possess the kind of personal peace and serenity that allowed him to SLEEP at a time like this? He knew some foundational truths about God that allowed his heart to be filled with serenity. Did Peter know something we don’t know? Actually, you can find peace in the midst of your trouble if you know these three truths about God.