“And when He approached, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, ‘If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.'” Luke 19:41-42
You’ve seen the bumper stickers and billboards. “KNOW JESUS; KNOW PEACE,” followed by “No Jesus; No Peace.”
That’s almost right, but not completely.
We hear Christians say, “If the world just knew Jesus, we would have world peace.” It sounds right, but we might be missing something.
A lot of Christians do not have peace. They are constantly beset by worries and fears, angst and anxieties. Christians are taking the prescriptions along with everyone else to settle their nerves. Something is going on. What?
Many churches–made up of born-again, Bible-believing, Christians (a redundancy if ever there was one)–are constantly at war among themselves. They argue over doctrine, where to situate the organ, whether to even have an organ, whether the pastor should wear a suit and tie or jeans and sneakers, and how much to pay the preacher. They argue over who is to run the church and divide over how long the sermons should be. And they love the Lord.
Something is wrong.
So, as much as we would like to say otherwise, being a Christian does not automatically make us people of peace.
The problem is multifaceted, beginning with ignorance of Scripture and continuing to immaturity and carnality. But there’s another big thing we need to address: There are different kinds of peace. In fact, there are at least three.
Peace with God. Peace within oneself. And peace between people.
Peace with God is a gift. Peace within oneself is a fruit. And peace between people is a work.
Peace with God is a gift of the Lord Jesus Christ. Peace within oneself is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. And peace between people is a work of righteousness.
A gift, a fruit, a work. The first–the gift of peace–is about salvation and involves evangelism. The second–the fruit of peace–is about maturity in Christ, it involves discipleship. And the third–the work of righteousness–is about obedience, involving ministry.
Here are the verses you’ve been waiting for:
–The gift of peace. There are two: “But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Peace with God is a gift, given freely, through the Lord Jesus Christ. It happens at the moment of salvation.
–The fruit of peace. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Peace within oneself–these nine qualities comprise a great description of Christlikeness; a believer’s character–is a fruit that is borne by a long time of faithfulness to the Lord Jesus. It takes time.
–The work of peace. “And the work of righteousness will be peace, and the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever” (Isaiah 32:17). Peace between people, between parties and groups and churches and nations, results not from a quick prayer or a profession of faith even. Such coming together results from believers doing the righteous work of peacemaking. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” our Lord said, “for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). Which is to say, those who make peace between estranged parties are doing a Godlike work.
Everything begins with peace with God, the gift of the Lord Jesus Christ at salvation.
I recall the first time I saw the transforming power of the presence of the Lord Jesus and the immediate peace He gives. I was a young pastor in Greenville, MS. Jack and Mary Ann were a young couple who’d started coming to the church I pastored. One day Jack called and asked me to visit their home. Mary Ann was under conviction and had not slept the night before. She was peppering him with so many questions, none of which he could answer, being a new believer himself, he slept on the couch. Both had gone on to work the next day, so we met in their home just after 5 pm.
She looked awful. She’d not slept the night before and her hair was in disarray. She obviously had more important things on her mind than her appearance that day. But when we got up off our knees, she was radiant. Gorgeous. I had never seen such a transformation take place inside two minutes in my life.
God’s peace does that. Look at the end of Psalm 42. “Why are you in despair, O my soul? Why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance, and my God.”
The help of my countenance. Peace makes you beautiful.
Start with giving your heart and life to the Lord Jesus Christ. We call it salvation.
Then, devote yourself to growing “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). That’s where the inner peace that is part of the fruit of the Spirit comes from.
And then, go out and bless others. Tell others about Jesus. Now, you are a peacemaker, and we recall our Lord saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9).
Now, go in peace.