Summary: This message is based on the fruit of the spirit and focuses on three types of peace. It concludes with practical insights to help people get along with one another.
Dr. Marty Baker
July 7, 2002
Over the last several weeks, we have watched the violence continue between the Israelis and the Palestinians over the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Even last night, Palestinians fired a mortar shell at a an Israeli community the southern Gaza Strip. Heavy gunfights were reported between Israeli and Palestinian forces in the area.1 In the last two years, over 550 Israelis have been murdered and over 4000 have been seriously injured.2
Most of us held our breath this week as we heard of the shooting at the Los Angeles airport. When the dust settled, we learned that it was an deranged Arabic man attacking the workers and passengers of the Israeli airline, El Al.3 The Arab - Israeli conflict dates back to the conflict between Isaac and Ishmael in the book of Genesis. Ever sense then, these nations have suffered through with the pains of war. The Bible encourages us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
If you were to interview someone from the Middle East today and ask them for a definition of peace chances are someone would stare at you with glazed, bloodshot eyes and say peace means laying the weapons down, sending the troops home, and putting the rifles back in their racks. They might even say, "What else could peace mean? Isn’t it obvious? Peace means the end of hostilities."
We all have a sense that peace is about an absence of conflict, hostility, and fighting. However, this is not the whole picture of peace. Jesus says that there is deeper kind of peace that can only come through His supernatural power and the working of the Holy Spirit.4
Over the last several weeks, we have been in a series called, Being the Best You Can Be. It is a series built on the Fruit of the Spirit as described in Galatians 5:22-23.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
These nine "fruit of the Spirit" are character qualities that we are encouraged to develop so we can become better people. Today, it is important to take the next step in this process as we look at Pursuing Peace.
We all long for peace. We want peace in the Middle East, peace in America, and all over the world. When Jesus talked about peace, He not only emphasized, the absence of conflict, but the importance of spiritual and relational healing.
You cannot be at true peace with others until you are at peace with yourself. But you can never be totally and truly at peace with yourself unless you are at peace with God, for true peace flows from the only One who can give peace. Let’s talk about ways that we can pursue peace. Over the next few minutes, I am going to talk about pursuing
Peace with God; Peace with Yourself; and Peace with Others.
People are looking for peace today in every place but the right place. Some try to find peace in pills or pleasure or possessions but discover too late that these things offer only a synthetic, counterfeit peace that always wears off and wears out.
Pursuing Peace ... Three Kinds of Peace
1. Peace with God
Lasting peace is found in a growing relationship with God. We all know people who avoid church and stay away from anything having to do with God. If you were to ask them, "Are you angry and hostile toward God?" They would say something like, "No, I’m not. As a matter of fact, I am at peace with God."
What does it really mean to be "at peace with God?" This statement typically means that they have an arrangement. They are going to allow God do His thing and they will do theirs. There is no open conflict, but there is certainly not a healthy and growing relationship.5
You cannot find lasting peace when you are at arms distance with God. You were created to have a relationship with God, but that relationship has been thwarted because of sin. When sin entered the world, it destroyed our ability to connect with God. As a result, we live with an unsettledness in our soul until the sin has been erased.
You will never find permanent peace in the center of your soul until you enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Only by confessing your sins, by asking Christ to be your forgiver, friend, and leader of your life can you discover genuine peace. This is the peace that comes from knowing that one has a right relationship with the sovereign God of this universe.
19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Jesus Christ,