Summary: There is a powerful peace that is ours to enjoy in Jesus Christ! Listen to God's word about how we come to know and have this peace.
The Recipe for God's Peace
As you read the New Testament letters of Paul and Peter you will notice the phrase “grace and peace” in all of their introductions.
Romans 1:7, 1 Cor. 1:3, 2 Cor. 1:2, Gal. 1:3, Eph. 1:2, Phil. 1:2, Col. 1:2, 1 Thes. 1:1, 2 Thess. 1:2, *1 Tim. 1:2, *2 Tim. 1:2, Titus 1:4, Philemon 3, 1 Peter 1:2, 2 Peter 1:2. *Grace, mercy and peace.
This phrase “grace and peace” comes from the blessing in Numbers 6:24-27. It is an abbreviated version something like what we say when we leave someone or finish a phone call. Good-bye is an abbreviated form of God bless you. We tend to like abbreviations: 24/7/365 means 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Thus we see the blessing of God from Numbers 6:24-27 abbreviated in the letters of Paul and Peter.
As God's priests we have authority to speak the blessing of God on the people of God! Let us say together this beautiful blessing of grace and peace from Numbers:
"May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you.
May the Lord lift his countenance upon you
and give you peace."
The Jews abbreviated this blessing to a single word: shalom, or peace. So what is peace? This is what we will talk about in today's lesson from Philippians 4.
In the letter of Philippians chapter 4, after urging Euodia and Syntyche to agree in the Lord and calling in backup to help them get their relationship issues settled, it logically follows that Paul turns attention to teachings that bring and maintain the peace of God.
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your forgiving spirit be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Look at verse 7 again. Underline that word "guard." This is a strong Greek word. It means a fortress or group of soldiers that protect and make secure. God's peace is not weak, but powerful and protective!
What is peace, and especially “the peace of God?” I think of a peaceful pool of water in the woods, mirror like on a still morning. Can you see it? It is lovely, but fragile. It only takes a breeze to disturb the mirror calm and begin ripples and waves in the water. Is that like the peace of God? I think of a restful night with peaceful sleep. Then the calm peace of sleep is shattered by the alarm clock and the issues of life that splash about and disrupt the quiet of tranquility of restful repose. Is that what the Bible means by the peace of God: quiet stillness and rest? In some sense, but listen to Jesus. He talks about peace in the midst of pain. John 14:27 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. God's peace is ours in times of trial and trouble bringing us strength and courage when we would falter. Peace from God is amazing!
We live in a world that seeks peace but doesn't know what it is or where to get it! Phil. 4:7 says the peace of God is beyond all understanding. So it's not surprising. But... Where do you go to get peace? To the woods? To the bed? To a party or a pill? Or maybe a quiet chapel? Peace is not found in a place or a thing. Peace, true and lasting peace, is only found in a Person, and a joyous relationship in that Person: We find peace in our heavenly Father the God of peace through our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of peace.
This peace has many practical aspects.
Philippians reminds us that Christian fellowship is built on the gospel of peace: peace with God and peace with men. Biblical peace is first of all a relationship with God in Christ, provided by God and given to us through the suffering and death of His Son, Jesus on the cross. Just imagine. How did God bring us His peace? God took the most ugly, horrifying, violent unpeaceful thing that could happen to a person and turned it into the instrument of His peace. Now that's not what we would have expected or imagined would bring peace. But God's wisdom is far above our own and He accomplishes His will through what we might perceive as an upside down method. Actually, the truth is, our ways have so fallen from God's way that we live in an upside down world that is hurling headlong into self destruction and hell. This world is moving farther and farther from peace as it moves away from God. What God has done is exactly right-side up! He disturbs our violence and invades our self-destructive world and turns it right-side up with gospel truth about lasting peace found only in Jesus Christ.