Peace: Resting, Reconciling and Roving with Shalom!
Peace is another fruit of the Spirit growing in our lives that may defy our earthly (or fleshly) definitions and expectations of what it means to have God’s peace.
Galatians 5:22,23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance [patience], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Close your eyes and think about peace for a moment. What image do you see in your mind’s eye?
What does peace mean to you in your faith walk?
Do any songs or other scriptures come to mind?
“Blue mind” is a growing area of scientific research looking at what happens to our minds and bodies when we are in, or near, water. I immediately connected with “peace like a river”. Most of us can probably relate to finding psychological benefits to being near water. I find being near the beach is a wonderful sensory and calming experience, and I can relate to the research. Perhaps we don’t need research to tell us these things. Our Creator God knows it – because he made it all.
Let’s look at some different images from Scripture that begin to give us a glimpse and a beginning of the understanding of the peace of God.
Philippians 4:7: it passes all understanding.
The Hebrew word for peace, shalom, is a fuller three-dimensional experience, that we simply don’t have an equivalent word for. It includes peace, well-being, presence of serenity, completeness.
What do you find hard to understand about peace?
We also read here that peace guards our hearts and minds. Peace is not simply a “state” of being. It is a living, protecting, gift from God.
How might the peace of God guard us?
Do you have a time to share (if studying in a group) where you knew God’s peace was guarding you in a “storm” in your life?
As we likely began with images of water and blue skies when we thought of peace in our “blue mind’s eye” let us examine some references to peace and water from Scripture.
Genesis 1:2.God’s peace was present in creation: verse 2, the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters (NKJV).
Isaiah 48:18. Peace like a river would have come from obedience to God’s commandments.
Isaiah 66:12. God will extend peace like a river.
These images of peace flowing, moving, give us the perspective of peace being a living, moving gift of the Spirit.
Some other main themes come up when examining different Scriptures in pursuit of peace that can be divided into Resting, Reconciling and Roving.
Peace for Resting
Let’s look at receiving and abiding in peace.
Isaiah 32:18. Peaceful habitation for God’s people – the effects of righteousness. A wonderful picture.
Psalm 4:8. We can lie down, sleep and dwell in safety.
It’s also necessary to challenge the assumptions we have about what it means to dwell in peace. Jesus tells us his peace is different from “world peace”. We come back to the idea that God’s peace surpasses understanding.
John 16:33. What do you make of Jesus’ reassurance of peace?
John 14:27. God’s peace is different from “world peace”.
John 20:19. Even Jesus’ appearance cannot be explained when he stood among them and shared his peace.
Romans 5:1. We have peace “since we have been justified by faith”.
How do these Scriptural references differ from the rather more worldly, or fleshly, idea of peace?
Can this help us to find peace in the storm?
Peace for Reconciling
Although we know peace is a fruit of the Spirit and a gift from God, we are actually instructed to seek out peace, and even to “make” peace in the form of Reconciliation.
As we work through these examples, remember we began with a look at the fruit of the Spirit. This is God’s peace – his gift to us. We cannot do these things in our own strength but are required to live with this fruit in our lives.
Isaiah 54:10. The Lord makes a Covenant of Peace with his people.
Hebrews 12:14. We are to strive for peace (unlike with some other spiritual gifts, there is an element of striving, and seeking, for peace).
Proverbs 12:20. We also find that joy and peace are linked, and that joy will come from planning and seeking peace.
2 Corinthians 13:11. Rejoice and reconcile – making peace will bring joy. We are promised that God will be with us.
Matthew 5:9. We are actually to BE peacemakers and share our spiritual gift with others to make peace.
2 Timothy 2:22. Living in step with the Spirit, we must pursue peace.
Colossians 3:15. The peace of Christ is to rule in our hearts.
Romans 12:18. Live at peace as far as it depends on you.
We cannot control others, but we see from these Scriptures that, as God’s people, we are to pursue peace, make for it, and that we have peace ruling in our hearts. Sometimes the pursuit of peace may mean allowing peace to “overrule” in our hearts as well.
What is the biggest challenge when it comes to reconciling and making peace?
Perhaps we sometimes forget that we cannot do this in our own strength. The peace of God is a fruit of the Spirit. Reconciliation will not happen “in the flesh”. It will come through the Holy Spirit.
Peace when Roving
In our Christian journey and on the path of life, we have peace to lead us! We have already seen that peace is a moving flowing gift and we are to be “led” by peace.
How will peace lead us?
Perhaps some of the decisions we need to make in our lives will draw on the peace of God and his wisdom. Sometimes we talk about having peace over a decision. Knowing how to discern the will of God and, practising that, is essential in our travails. We pray for wisdom – and there find peace.
About wisdom: All her paths are peace. Proverbs 3:17.
Sometimes “peace”, as a tool, is more noticeable by its absence in certain situations, for example, confusion and fear.
1 Corinthians 14:33. Confusion is the opposite of peace.
1 John 4:18. Fear is the opposite of peace.
When there is an absence of peace and the presence of fear, we should have alarm bells. We have some clues there that a situation or a decision is not from God.
Can you think of a time when peace, or the absence of it, was a leader in your decision making?
This complex, wonderful gift is multi-faceted, and we have only scratched the surface.
To summarise, we have called to mind images of peace, explored its safety, comfort and leading.
Which aspect or image of peace has comforted you the most?
Which area of peace at work in our lives do you need to pray for more of, or feel most challenged by?