Peace be with you

Danny Peters

I love – absolutely love -- being a Dad.

It’s the best and most difficult job in the world. But if there’s one thing I’ve noticed about being a Dad it’s that the concept of “free time” has been eviscerated from both my lexicon and my life.

Put more simply, you never get a moment’s peace.

This became even more the case recently, after Theo finally learned how to open doors. In a weird and massively beneficial quirk, for his parents at least, he had closing doors down early but opening them utterly eluded him. Not anymore, folks, not anymore, and Theo has certainly made a number of additional unannounced Zoom appearances of late. Toddlers, as any parent who has braved one knows, are in a constant state of evolution. The only question is can you keep up? (Please Lord let me be able here!)

Growing up with two younger sisters back home in England, the only question in our household really was how high was the general level of chaos we caused on any given day. Was it full on thermo nuclear or was it just a tick under? One of the phrases my Dad would trot out when at his wit’s end with the three of us was: “oh, just give me a bit of peace.” Side note: My Dad is amazing. I’m blessed to have such a great Dad and each and every time he said this to me he was indisputably right.

Early on, though, I recognized the importance of peace or at least or perhaps more accurately, the negative effects of the absence of peace.

Writing this MWKD a year ago it would have been easy to devolve into the old trope “running from one thing to the next, always on, 24-7 world” as a way to frame our lack of peace. But the reality these past twelve (five hundred?) months have looked a lot different. We’ve all needed peace, still, just in very different ways; ways in which we couldn’t possibly have imagined.  

We see peace as a theme throughout the Bible. In the King James version, the word appears over 400 times alone. Isaiah 9:6 foretelling the coming of Jesus refers to him (amongst other names) as the “Prince of Peace” and when the angels announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds in the field peace was also a theme: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased! (Luke 2:8, ESV).

Galatians 5 tells us that peace is a fruit of the spirit while Psalm 34:14 urges us to “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” And Colossians 3:15 reminds us to “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

So, as Christians, we’re not only told to actively seek peace while shunning evil but more than that we also know that we’re explicitly called to peace. This isn’t an optional get to it if you can kind of message either; we’re not called to peace at times that suit us best. We are called to peace – period.

In the gospels, we see Jesus talk about peace on earth and also the peace that comes from God and, as noted, it’s an important difference. In Matthew 10:34, when Jesus is sending out his disciples to heal the sick and to spread the news that the Kingdom of Heaven was near he is crystal clear “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

And yet shortly before Jesus was betrayed and arrested he speaks to his disciples of a very different heavenly kind of peace.

John 14:27 (ESV)
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

What we learn here, in a true Hall of Fame Bible verse, is that God’s peace isn’t ephemeral like earthly peace, it’s permanent. But not only that it’s also a different kind of peace not of this broken world; one that we need to really lean into on our Christian journey. Paul illustrates this well in his epistle to the church at Philippi:

Philippians 4:7 (NIV)
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Bill Johnson, a senior pastor at Bethel Church, has a good take on this verse noting that: “If you want to have peace that passes understanding, you have to give up your right to understand everything.”

The point here is to trust God with all of it, with everything – all the intimate details. By way of a reminder Luke 12:7 tells us that for God “even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” I mean that’s a level of detail you simply can’t compete with now isn’t it?

And yet here in the day-to-day, especially with everything so up-ended and back to front, it can seem downright insurmountable right? How can I have peace in this madness, you might well ask yourself? Is peace just a five letter word you almost always want more of but rarely, if ever, actually get? Some days it can feel like that.  

So two thoughts to close with this week.

Firstly, God’s peace is freely available to us whenever we want to access it. You don’t have to qualify for it, study for it or search deeply for it. And not only is it absolutely obtainable, it also grows as 2 Peter 1:2 (ESV) tells us: “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”

And secondly, bring it all to God. We’re told explicitly not to worry about anything so in prayer, lay all your woes and worries at God’s feet and thank him for all that he has done. Sometimes here I think it’s easy to forget what God has done for us (seen and unseen). Just think about the times when you wanted something really bad, didn’t get it, but got something better instead (something that you really needed). So today, thank God for it all and relax in his peace.

John 16:33 (NIV)
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”