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As the pastor of my local congregation, I raise my hands each Sunday and pronounce the benediction on the people of God, often using the Aaronic blessing from Numbers 6: “The LORD bless you and keep you . . . the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (vv. 24–26). Yet, everyone leaves the worship service and enters a world that is anything but peaceful. Our personal lives are chaotic, stressful, and filled with worry, and almost immediately, those words of blessing seem to fade as we navigate our days, trying to juggle what life throws our way. We love the idea of peace, but it is often elusive and seemingly far from us.
Typically, people’s sense of peace is based on how they are feeling, or it is dictated by their circumstances. This wrong metric leads to people thinking that more peace can be achieved simply by self-effort or by obtaining better life conditions. However, the peace that the Bible speaks of has little to do with the daily experiences of life—or how we feel about them.
The familiar Hebrew word for peace, shalom, conveys the idea of wholeness; it refers to wellness in both body and soul. The New Testament writers, while maintaining the idea of shalom, rightly emphasize the need for harmony and unity in our relationships with one another. These two concepts together demonstrate that neither the internal peace within nor the external peace without is innate in this fallen world. Rather, each is a “good and perfect gift from above” (James 1:17). The Holy Spirit imparts the gift of peace as a fruit of true belief and a benefit of our redemption in Christ.
So, how can we reclaim this gift in our lives? Again, the solution is not to look within or to conjure up peaceful, easy feelings but rather to look externally to God and recognize who He is. He is the God of peace, the source of all that we need. He will give in abundance so that none of His children will lack. Here are several reasons that our peace is secure and should abound more and more.
First, we have been reconciled to God through the Lord Jesus Christ. We who were once at enmity with God and the world have been given the gift of peace, which was made possible because the Son of God endured the unpeaceableness and cruelty of the world for our sake. He took on flesh, entered the hostility and the chaos of the world, and secured salvation through His atoning death. Our peace has been purchased by the blood of the Lamb, and that blood makes the foulest sinner a child of God. Through Christ and the indwelling Spirit, we have been made right with the Father, and that peace with God is the source and fountain of peace in God.
Second, that which God has secured will not be forgotten. God’s providential care frees us from the stress and burdens of life. As His adopted children, we are not left as orphans but are instead entrusted to His care in all things. He is the sovereign God over the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, neither of which fall victim to worry because He sees to them. So why do we fret, though we are of much greater worth? Has our heavenly Father remembered them only to forget about us? Of course not. Rather, Jesus beckons weary and heavy-laden souls to come to Him for rest, and that rest manifests itself in a calm assurance that all is well—regardless of our circumstances.
Third, the peace that has been secured in Christ and manifested throughout our daily provisions must be constantly fought for in our lives. Though our peace is ultimately founded on God’s faithfulness, our lack of faith can diminish it. In the midst of the storm on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus admonished the winds and the waves (and no doubt His disciples too) with the words, “Peace! Be still!” before turning to the frightened men to ask: “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:38–40). Likewise, the Apostle Paul reminded the Philippians that through “prayer and supplication with thanksgiving” they were to battle their anxious thoughts and have the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:6–7). These verses demonstrate that while we are not the ultimate source of peace, we can contribute to it by applying principles of Christian faith and discipline.
Fourth, Christians are to be peacemakers in the world. Conflicts, disagreements, and harsh words ought to be resolved quickly so as to restore the unity and peace of a relationship. Harmony with God requires love and accord with one another (1 John 4:20). This is especially true in marriage and in the church. And while it also applies to our relationship with the greater world, that may not always be feasible. That is why Paul added the caveat, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Rom. 12:18).
The world desperately desires and speaks longingly of peace, but it can only be found in the God of peace, secured through the Prince of Peace, and given as the fruit of the Spirit of peace. This irrevocable blessing is constant through the ever-changing circumstances of life and is a bedrock truth that we as believers are to treasure and enjoy. Just as Jesus spoke “Peace! Be still!” on that stormy night on the sea, so He is speaking (and supplying) the same peace into troubled hearts of believers. So, the next time your pastor raises his arms and pronounces the blessing of peace, receive it and rest in this true gift given to you.