After many years of diverse career experience, I was excitedly counting down the days until my retirement. I eagerly anticipated being in control of my schedule and time while enjoying a slower pace of life. I envisioned more days devoted to serving in ministry at my church and deepening relationships...
People everywhere search for peace. They sing songs about it and travel on pilgrimages to find it. They even wage war to protect it. Many wealthy, famous, and powerful people would trade everything for just one moment of peace. What they often find, however, is the world’s false peace which is different from the peace offered by Jesus:
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. (John 14:27)
The peace offered by the world is an empty promise and can only bring temporary comfort. God’s peace is a permanent peace offered by the only One who can be trusted to keep his Word and heal our sin.
The world’s peace is fleeting and changes with circumstances.
During times of prosperity, nations experience temporary peace. But when economies struggle, countries find themselves on the brink of civil war as well as war with their neighbors. The peace of the world is a precarious thing. Conflict erupts when people are hungry; peace disappears when circumstances turn ugly:
Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who lead my people astray, who cry “Peace” when they have something to eat, but declare war against him who puts nothing into their mouths. (Micah 3:5)
The world’s peace is built on the weak foundation of compromise.
In the Old Testament, God warned the Israelites that if they inter-married for political reasons, they would face the temptation to compromise their love for the one true God and end up serving false gods. This compromise, though it would create a temporary absence of conflict, would ultimately lead to destruction:
Be careful not to make a treaty with the inhabitants of the land that you are going to enter; otherwise, they will become a snare among you. (Exodus 34:12, NIV)
Therefore do not give your daughters to their sons, neither take their daughters for your sons, and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land and leave it for an inheritance to your children forever. (Ezra 9:12)
The world’s peace ignores the root of the problem.
When asked, “What’s wrong with the world today?” many will point to volatile stock markets, corrupt governments, disappearing rainforests, poor diets, lack of healthcare, broken families, overcrowded schools, and more. The world tries to fix these problems by doing good: feeding children, building wells, regulating markets, conserving wildlife, funding charter schools, and thereby achieving a type of peace.
The world’s peace tries to fix the symptoms of sin but fails to see how the root of the problem is the sin-disease itself, something that can only be healed by Christ—not by money, regulation, or reform. Dealing with the symptoms of sin but failing to diagnose the sin itself is not new. In the Old Testament, the false prophets treated sin “lightly” and proclaimed the problem “solved” when it wasn’t:
They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14).
Precisely because they have misled my people, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets smear it with whitewash. (Ezekiel 13:10)
In contrast to the world’s promise of peace, God’s peace is permanent and firmly grounded in his Word. He doesn’t ignore our sin—he heals it, making his peace a different kind of peace from what we find in the world.
God’s peace is permanent and secure.
When circumstances are free of conflict, we enjoy momentary peace. But when we face difficult relationships, health problems, and financial crisis, the momentary quiet is disrupted and chaos rules the day.
Our God offers peace in the midst of chaos. His peace doesn’t change with the circumstances; it is secure in spite of the circumstances.
“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:10)
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
God’s peace is built on the sure foundation of his Word.
Young or old, male or female, we’ve all experienced the pain of a broken promise. No matter how much our families, friends, and coworkers love us, at some point, someone will disappoint us. And despite our best intentions, we are likely to disappoint someone else by saying one thing and doing another. God’s Word, however, can be trusted. He never contradicts himself or acts in a way that is out of character. He will never disappoint.
Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble. (Psalm 119:165)
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3)
God’s peace is ours because Jesus heals our root of sin.
All religions other than true Christianity have one thing in common: They try to achieve peace with God by doing works and following rules. Christianity is different.
In Christ, we are offered peace with God because we who “once were far off” (Ephesians 2:13) have been reconciled to God through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus’ sacrifice addresses the root of the problem that the world ignores. By his sacrifice, he bridged the gap that sin inserted between us and God. He took the punishment for our sin and, in exchange, he gives us peace with God.
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility. (Ephesians 2:14)
And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. (Isaiah 32:17)
While we experience eternal peace through reconciliation with God in Christ, we also receive the gift of his Holy Spirit. Because of him, we enjoy the blessing of peace in our daily lives—even when we find ourselves in the midst of turmoil.