Summary: We develop peace in the body of Christ by focusing on what unites us and working toward the mutual edification of the body.
Let’s begin this morning by reminding ourselves of some important aspects of the fruit of the Spirit.
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
1) Is demonstrated by being not doing
2) Is developed as Christ followers cooperate with the Holy Spirit
3) Is to be delightful to an unbelieving world
The way we do that as a body is reflected in two aspects of our life together in the body:
• The way we treat each other
• Our corporate worship
Today we’ll be focusing on peace as one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. This morning’s story from Home Town Tales is called “History Lessons”.
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS…PEACE
As we have discovered with the first two aspects of the fruit of the Spirit – love and joy – we must begin by defining the term “peace.” If we look that word up in one of our English dictionaries, the most common definitions would be something like these:
• the absence of war or other hostilities
• a state of harmony between people or groups
• freedom from strife
• a state of stillness, silence or serenity
While there is certainly nothing wrong with those definitions, they fall short of describing the Biblical concept of peace.
In the Old Testament, the concept of peace is usually expressed by the Hebrew word “shalom”, a word that was used as a typical greeting among the Hebrews. That word conveys much more than just an absence of conflict. It was used to describe a state of well-being, wholeness and harmony that infuses all of one’s relationships.
The New Testament Greek word most often translated as "peace" is “eirene”. Although that word originally meant “the absence of conflict”, it was used by the New Testament writers as the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew idea of “shalom.” Thus it also indicates that which makes for man’s highest good and brings fulfillment and wholeness to one’s life.
Biblical peace is always a product of God’s involvement in our lives, but it is so total and profound that it touches on every area of our lives – our relationship with God, our inner self, our relationships with other believers and our interactions with the world at large. Not surprisingly, the Bible rarely, if ever pictures peace as merely some kind of “inner contentment” or a purely mental state. It is just not possible to be at peace only with oneself and experience Biblical peace.
Although every element of the fruit of the Spirit is far more than just some character trait to be developed in our individual lives, it is the element of peace that best demonstrates for us the necessity of developing these attributes as a corporate body.
It’s not hard to see why a body of believers who exhibits peace among its members is attractive to an unbelieving world. Most people are searching for the kind of wholeness and fulfillment that characterizes Biblical peace. That’s why bookstores have such large self-help sections or why people watch Oprah and Dr. Phil in such large numbers. It’s why someone would risk their life in a sweat lodge ceremony in Sedona because they saw a website that promised to help them “create harmonic wealth” in all areas of their lives [jamesray.com].