August 14, 2020

Give Peace a Chance

Too many of us are fuelled by anger and, frankly, raging at everyone and everything. It seems that everyone is annoyed at someone or something. The kids who are driving us mad, the welfare worker who stopped our benefits, friends on Facebook that have cheesed us off this week, that guy who cut us up in traffic and never even acknowledged we were driving, never mind said thanks for getting out his way.

Basically, the list is endless. Sometimes it seems that most people walk around with a low-level anger buzzing around them, and it really doesn’t take a lot before they are flying off the handle at the latest tiny annoyance. Volatile and dangerous, they are weighed down with, and exhausted by, the torrent of emotion raging within.

Is Peace Possible?

For so many of us, peace seems like a fantasy—something we are never going to achieve in our lifetime. If we Google ‘peace’, scan the magazines in the newsagents’, look at books on Amazon or even flick to the right TV adverts, they are all full of tips and ‘how to’ guides for finding inner peace. It’s like everyone and their granny is in search of peace.

But are they all searching for the same thing? Some people think peace is just not having an argument for five minutes or not mouthing off at the doctor’s receptionist. Others think that peace is having no hardship in life—not having a care or a worry. So what is peace?

Illustration

I love that scene in Miss Congeniality when the beauty pageant contestants are all asked, “What’s the most important thing society needs?” One by one, over and over, they all smile sweetly and say the same thing: “World Peace!”, followed by a massive round of applause and a few whoops from the audience. Then Sandra Bullock’s character, Gracie Hart, steps up. Stan pauses and asks, “What’s the most important thing society needs?” All poise and grace, she answers, “That would be harsher punishment for parole violators, Stan.” There’s a total stunned silence and all we can hear is crickets chirping in the background. Stan looks awkward and doesn’t know quite what to do when Gracie adds, saving the day, “. . . aaaaand World Peace!” The crowd go wild with applause. ‘World Peace’ might be the imagined standard answer at a beauty pageant, but what is this peace they all seem to want?

Most people would define peace as the absence of war, being calm all the time, or living a life free from any hassle, struggles or chaos. But is it just that?

If that’s all peace is, then what does it mean when we are faced with Bible verses that tell us that trouble and strife should be expected in our Christian life? For example, James 1:2–3 says “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” That little word ‘when’ that we see in verse 2 tells us that, as Christians, we are to expect trials and struggles in our lives.

So can peace really just be the absence of hassles and struggles? How does that work if, as a Christian, we are to expect trials but we are also to have peace in our lives? Confusing, right? There has to be more to it than that. So what is it then? How do I get it? How do I get peace with other people and for myself? Am I actually supposed to have peace anyway if you’re telling me I’m supposed to expect struggles and hard times? All these questions could make our brains melt if we aren’t careful. They can feel a bit overwhelming. We have to think it through.

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

(Rom. 5:1)

Romans tells us that peace goes beyond just living without strife, that it’s more than just the absence of conflict or inner turmoil. It talks about a peace that can only come from knowing that everything is settled with God. Romans tells us our greatest need is to have peace with God, and we can only find that peace through His Son Jesus.

Outside of Jesus, we can never find true peace. It’s as simple as that. There is no way we can remotely defend ourselves or pay the price our sin demands. Without Christ, the tsunami of God’s judgements would totally and justifiably wipe us out. But, God gave us an out. He chose to save us through Jesus Christ.

“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”

(1 Pet. 3:18)

Change

When we become a Christian, we should expect change. When we find peace with God though Christ—we should change. We see this in our lives, because not only has our relationship with God changed and been restored, but our relationships with others also change. Not only can we have peace with God, but we can have peace with people too.

We see the evidence of this change when we start to practice forgiveness and patience, we fight the temptation to whine and moan, we actually take responsibility for our sin instead of blaming something or someone else, we resist the urge to be self-righteous and judgemental, or when we fight our pride. Suddenly, we notice the way we were living and don’t want to live like that anymore. God is transforming us. When we are transformed from the inside out, we stand out, people notice, and God is glorified.

I feel at this point I should write ‘the end’ and walk away. We’ve “been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). All sorted, end of story, right? I mean, God is steadfast and never changing.

Nothing can change the peace we have with God now, right? But what if that’s not true for us? What if there’s no peace in my life right now?

STOP: Is there something robbing you of your peace? What is it?

Is it unrepentant sin? Lusting after something or someone? Secretly ‘at it’ on the sly? Not trusting God? Worrying about everything? Being a total control freak? Is the pain of your past affecting your present? Are you relying and trusting in the wrong things?

Hear the good news of Romans 8. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 8:1)

The thing with truth is that we all too easily forget it. It’s like we learn a lesson and—bang—three minutes later we’ve completely forgotten it. We constantly have to be reminded of the truths of the gospel and speak them into our lives. Whatever is robbing you of your peace, run to God in prayer and repentance. Be honest with him and cling to him, giving thanks for your salvation and the hope we have in Christ. He bought our peace through the blood of Jesus, and that can never be taken away.


This is an adapted excerpt from Sharon Dickens’ book, Character: How Do I Change?, which is part of the recently released First Steps series.

Thanks to our friends at 10ofthose, this series is currently heavily discounted. You can purchase it in the UK here and the U.S. here.