Fruit of the Spirit: Peace That Passes Understanding
In this fast-paced, hustle-hard world we live in, peace seems to be a rare commodity that we find once a year during our vacation on the beach. (If it’s even as often as that.) There are SO MANY things that can come and steal our peace. Outside forces like disagreements, arguments, harassment, persecution, and just generally clashing with other people. Situations beyond our control that cause stress and worry. Inner turmoil, discontent, restlessness, overwhelm. The list is endless. With all those things working against us, trying to trap us in chaos, it’s honestly a miracle we find peace as often as we do. Once in a while, we get a well-deserved break and force ourselves to rest and attempt to shut off our whirring minds where all the chaos continues.
Doesn’t really sound peaceful, does it? So what is true peace and how do we get it? Does it even exist?
Peace in the Storm
As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.
Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”
When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!” – Mark 4:35-41 NLT
This is a pretty popular story, and I’ve heard it many times, but it’s still one of my favourites. I think our lives often feel like this – we’re going along, minding our own business, and then things start to fall apart. We’re getting tossed around, and we’re taking on more and more water, until we’re certain we’re sinking and there’s no way but down.
“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.” – John 16:33 NIV
Hardship is a fact of life. Jesus himself said so. This is an imperfect world, and with that comes imperfection. But this world is not all there is. And Jesus has provided us a way out of it. Even while we physically live in this world, Jesus has provided us a way out of its brokenness. He is that way! He is our peace.
A way out of the brokenness doesn’t always mean we’ll be magically transported to a place of peace and out of our circumstances. Jesus didn’t save them from the storm by snapping his fingers and having them appear on dry land. They were still in the boat, surrounded by the water that a moment ago had threatened to capsize them. But the water wasn’t enough to drown them anymore. Jesus stopped the storm, and brought calm this time. Sometimes he will just ride out the storm with us, but we can still have peace in the midst of it all.
Peace That Passes Understanding
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7 NIV
So what is peace? I think many of us would define it as a period of time where things around us aren’t all crazy so we feel calm and at rest, free from stress. That’s pretty close. But true peace isn’t actually connected to our circumstances at all. This verse doesn’t say that God will banish all bad and hectic things from our lives so we can just get a little peace and quiet. This verse says that God’s peace will protect our hearts and minds. Whatever is going on around us, our minds and hearts can be at peace.
How to Have Peace
So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. – Romans 8:6 NLT
As we know, peace is a fruit of the Spirit. When we freely receive salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit, peace is something that we ourselves begin to produce. Peace is found in Jesus, and when we live in the Spirit, it can also be found in us. In the story of Jesus calming the storm, his disciples would not be described as terribly faithful or peaceful. They were all just straight up freaking out (and fair enough!). It is tough to be calm in a tiny little boat in the midst of a massive storm. But the disciples were being controlled by their flesh (again, fair enough – their flesh was in some mortal danger) and all they could see was death. Had the disciples been letting the Spirit control their minds, they would have had faith in Jesus and been at peace. When we follow Jesus, we don’t have to live our lives in fear and chaos. We can have life and peace.
Be Bearers of Peace
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns! – Isaiah 52:7 NLT
There are many places in the Bible (see Colossians 3:15, Romans 14:17-19) where we are commanded to live at peace with those around us. So, as we produce the fruit of peace, not only should we see peace in our own lives, but also in the lives of people we come into contact with. We can share the good news of Jesus with others by the way we interact peacefully with others, including people we are close to, acquaintances, strangers, and people we don’t get along with. We are to carry peace with us everywhere we go and spread it around.
Peace is not an elusive season of life. Peace is a gift from God that we have access to through faith. When we live a life of faith, we will begin to produce peace. Our own hearts and minds can be at peace no matter our circumstances. We can also carry peace and share it with those around us.
Is there an area of your life that you need more peace in?