Looking for peace?
Yeah, everyone is, right? You know, that inner peace that dispels anxiety and worry. People talk about the journey to get there, but are you sure you’re making the right journey? Can you even know?
Actually, you can. The Bible talks about at least two types of peace and unfortunately people in general, and Christians in particular, too often are searching for one kind of peace while traveling the path to the other. It’s like expecting a German chocolate cake but baking with the ingredients for vegetable soup. You’ll never get German chocolate cake with vegetables, and you’ll never get the peace you’re looking for traveling the wrong direction.
The first type of peace is peace that results from the absence of trouble, such as a treaty or truce that ends tension. We hear of peace treaties all the time that end wars or bring about an end to conflict. Trouble is gone and we now have peace. Job done.
The second type of peace the Bible presents is a “state of being,” a default setting that is in place and part of our on-going nature. This peace dictates one’s response to circumstances, conflict, and trouble.
According to 2 Peter 1:2, this second type of peace is the byproduct of knowing (familiarity by experience) God: “May God give you more and more GRACE (unmerited kindness) and PEACE (tranquility of the soul) as you GROW in your KNOWLEDGE of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God grants a tranquility of the soul (peace) the more we become familiar with Him through experience. Knowing God increases confidence in God, and confidence breeds “preemptive peace.”
This peace is how the Apostle Paul sang hymns in prison, or how Peter calmly defied the religious leaders in court, or how Stephen prayed for others while literally being stoned. Their circumstances didn’t change in a favorable way bringing about their peace. I mean, all three could have died and Stephen did. However, they already had peace when they arrived in the midst of really bad circumstances. Their past experiences with God had already increased their confidence in His character and that knowledge created in them a tranquility of the soul (peace) that drove out fear. They possessed an active peace that dictated their response to conflict rather than a reactive peace contingent on a favorable outcome.
Fear is the enemy of peace and unfortunately it seems that a lot of people today who profess Christ are driven by fear. Their hoped-for path to peace is tied to their preferred outcome. If their candidate wins then there will be peace. If this group of people’s agenda is suppressed then there will be peace. If I can just land this particular job with this particular salary, then there will be peace. When one’s peace is contingent upon achieving a desired outcome before peace can exist, the peace is no more than a sandcastle waiting to be dissolved by the next troublesome wave.
This type of peace is rooted in one’s ability to control others or circumstances. The type of peace God desires to give us is rooted in unwavering confidence in His unchanging character.
Christian, what is the source of your peace? Turn from trying to manipulate peace from your preferred outcome and genuinely seek it in a deeper experience with God. Don’t mistake the one for the other. You may be on a journey to find peace, but make sure you’re traveling the right road to the right destination.