As I look at my world this week, I do not see a world at peace, or a people at peace. I see fear, anger, suspicion. I see blaming, accusation, interactive speech dripping with venom.
Two weeks ago, we took a deep dive into Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” ESV. On the heels of that rather unsettling directive, the apostle Paul calls Christ-followers to public displays of gentleness, to the shedding of anxiety and to constant prayers and pleadings, the outcome of which will be a peace that defies explanation, a peace that comes from the God of peace.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:7, NIV-1978
Quite literally, this verse says the peace of God “surpasses all mind.” The peace of God is incomprehensible to the human mind. But what is this peace of God?
Whatever the peace of God is, it is juxtapositioned against anxiety. In this same statement of peace, Paul says, “Be anxious for nothing.” Do not allow yourself to be pulled in different directions. The God of heaven, the God of peace, pulls us in only one direction, and that is to him and his glory. Our fears and anxieties pull us in quite a different direction.
This peace of God guards or stands vigil over both our hearts and our minds. In other contexts, this same word is used to describe being held prisoner. If my heart and mind are going to be held prisoner by, or to anything, I want that thing to be the peace of God.
So, in Philippians 4:7, Paul presents the peace of God which guards our hearts and minds. Then in verse nine, he presents the God of peace who “will be with you.” The peace of God comes from the God of peace.
But look around you. Look at our society, our nation, our world. We are not at peace now, and we have not been at peace since Cain killed Abel. Arguably, we broke peace as soon as Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. The immediate result of that was estrangement, both from God and from each other.
What we learn from Philippians 4:7, then, is that it is possible to be at peace in an atmosphere that amplifies anything but peace. Maybe society is not at peace, but you are guarded by a personal peace that is not dependent on anything to do with society.
Remember the line from Rudyard Kipling, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…”
Several other things we know about the God of peace:
- The God of peace will soon crush Satan under the feet of the believers. – Romans 16:20
- The God of peace will sanctify us (make us holy) through and through. – 1 Thessalonians 5:23a
- The “Lord” of peace will grant us peace at all times and in all ways. – 2 Thessalonians 3:16
- The God of peace will equip us for everything good for accomplishing his will. – Hebrews 13:20-21
The apostle Paul also makes reference to peace in his letter to Colossae, there calling it the “peace of Christ.”
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. – Colossians 3:5, NIV-1978
We have the peace of God from the God of peace. It stands vigil over our hearts and minds, and transforms us so profoundly that the world sees our non-reaction to the chaos around us, and they have no capacity for understanding what they see. They cannot comprehend such peace, because such things are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14).
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. – Isaiah 26:3, NIV-1978
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Victoriously in Christ!
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