An Elusive Peace

An Elusive Peace

Peace is elusive.  Peace in the world.  Peace among ourselves.  Peace in our hearts. 

There is a peace that the Bible talks about and then there is a peace that men strive after. 

Consider a man…

  • Who is not disturbed by the chances and changes of fortune.
  • He is not rich necessarily but he is comfortable.
  • He is not worried by the market.
  • Tomorrow's bread gives him no cause for concern.
  • He is able to satisfy his desires as they arise.
  • He is never biting his nails about the rent, the mortgage or the bank statement.
  • On the level of day to day needs he is at peace.
  • What are called the cares of life give him no anxiety.
  • He goes on vacation to the cottage or beach and thinks he’s found a deeper peace.
  • He is never upset by controversy because he never bothers to be involved in it.
  • His defense against the spiritual dangers of life is indifference.  Ignore them and they will do you no harm.
  • He is not upset by the pains and problems of others because he never notices them.
  • He is never aggravated by his faith being challenged because he never makes it known.

Maybe you recognize this man.  In a certain sense he is at peace - but it is not the peace of God.  It is peace by stagnation.  A life free of trouble is what the world considers peace but the peace of God goes beyond this.  It is a peace not dependent on circumstances.  So this morning we will consider this peace.  We will start by looking at Jesus, the one who has given us his peace.  We’ll then consider the dire need to discover this peace in our own lives and also among ourselves as the body of Christ.

The Peace of Jesus

There’s no better place to start then by looking at the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, the prince of peace.  Isaiah said,

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”  (Isa 26:3). 

How well those words fit Jesus, but here is a paradox for you that I think we learn from his life.  You can be troubled in spirit and still be at peace.  You can feel turmoil and still feel content.  There can be strong currents in our lives without waves. 

This is found in a thread running through the last night of Jesus life that I find fascinating.  And as we come to try and understand this type of peace we look to the one who manifested it so well.  It all starts in John 12:27.

“Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.”  (John 12:27)

Are we surprised maybe that Jesus admits to being troubled?  In Psalm 88:14 it says of Jesus, “I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up”.  In the same Psalm in verse 3 it says, “For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.”  He had known from a child that everything would lead to this moment but now his hour was drawing even near.  Certainly, he could feel the tension building---the pressure of wills. 

Could it be said at this moment that Jesus was not at peace?  Can we see the inner turmoil in his soul?  Can one be troubled and still be at peace?  Certainly, there is no sin in concern.  There are circumstances where worry is perfectly proper.  The right perspective is concern without panic; anxiety without despair.

So he asks a rhetorical question that would reverberate again with more intensity in the Garden of Gethsemane, “what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.”  It is not the last time he will express his emotions.  The hour is getting closer and he feels it.  In John 13:1 it says,

"Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end."

Now what does he do?  He washes the disciples’ feet.  There is an emphasis here though on Judas Iscariot (v. 2, 11, 18-21).  I think we would be right in assuming that he stooped down and washed the feet of his own betrayer.  What would that have been like?  What would have been the look on their faces?  It no doubt pained Jesus as we read in verse 18-21,

"I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. {19} Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he. {20} Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. {21} When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me."

Based upon verse 20, I would say that Jesus was not troubled about himself but about the one who had rejected God by rejecting him.  Judas Iscariot, the betrayer in the midst, must have been a temptation for Jesus.  How would any of us have acted about someone we knew was up to no good?  For Jesus it was simply a grief of mind to lose this one.  How he must have prayed desperately that it would not happen this way.  Yet when it comes to pass it almost seems to still Jesus’ mind and he amazingly turns from his troubled mind to rather sooth the minds of his disciples.  At the end of chapter 13, Jesus assures Peter that he will deny him.  The look of disappointment and anguish on Peter’s face must have been plainly evident for Jesus immediately says in John 14:1,

"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me."

Isn’t that amazing that twice we have seen a troubled Jesus yet now he turns to comfort others.  Their looks of despair must have pained Jesus, so he gives them the quiet assurance that he will send a Comforter, even the spirit of truth.  I just realized while reading this how appropriate the term comforter is in the midst of him trying to alleviate their fears.  Then he allays their fears once more in 14:27,

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

And again in 16:33,

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

Jesus had peace.  He gave it to his disciples and he has given us a measure of peace as well.  It is not a worldly peace but a heavenly peace.   

Peace within Ourselves

Jesus has given us the keys to this peace but it is ours to strive after.   This true peace in the heart depends on many factors.  Firstly, we come to know this peace when we experience God’s forgiveness for Paul says in Romans 5:1,

"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:"

Secondly, the peace comes when our minds our transformed by the word of God.  James 3:17-18 says,

"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. {18} And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace."

I make no pretensions that I completely know what it is like to have the full peace of God in my heart.  I believe, it is one of those elusive qualities that we can learn about but in the end must experience ourselves to truly understand.  Even then, Paul says in Phil. 4:7,

"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. {7} And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

So the ability to pray and find contentment in life are more factors to peace.  For Paul to say this, the feelings of peace must pass all levels of description but it nonetheless is something we all must experience.  Peace almost seems to be the pinnacle of evidence which proves our faith and love in Christ Jesus.  Paul says in Colossians 3:15, “let the peace of God rule in your hearts.”  How we do this is evident in the context of the verse,

(Col 3:12-15 KJV)  "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; {13} Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. {14} And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. {15} And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful."

The more we have compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and love the more we can let the peace of God rule in our hearts.  And as much as each one of us can do this then the more hope we have at success in the ecclesia, “to the which also ye are called in one body.”

Peace Among Ourselves

Without the peace of God, ruling in our hearts it will be impossible to have peace among ourselves.  The two are inexorably intertwined.  James says,

(James 3:18 NIV)  "Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness."

Which is an echo of the very words of Jesus,

(Mat 5:9 KJV)  "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."

So the more we have the peace of God ruling in our hearts then the more it would seek to overflow and cause peace with our spouse, our children, our families and our brothers and sisters in Christ.  But peace is elusive.  We struggle to overcome our bitter envying and strife in our hearts.  It’s not easy.  Hebrews 12:14 puts it this way,

"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:"

The word “follow” in the KJV has a much more urgent sense in the Greek.  Modern translations have either “strive, pursue or make every effort.”  Paul speaks about the same urgency in Ephesians 4:1-3,

"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, {2} With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; {3} Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

That word “endeavour” has the essence of speed and means to “make every effort and be diligent.”  That word “bond” literally has the meaning of a “joint tie” or ligament.  This makes sense as he begins to talk about the ecclesia in terms of a body.  Peace is the ligaments of the body.  It is that which holds the bones together.  Without which the body would be rendered useless.  As each of us is a member of the body of Christ, it is up to us to provide the peace that will keep it together and help it to grow (see v. 13).

Another difficult part is it’s not always up to us.  As they say, “it takes two to tango.”  Paul says in Romans 12:16-18 (NIV),

“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. {17} Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. {18} If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  (Romans 12:16-18 NIV)

Paul is being very pragmatic here.  He knows that peace is elusive but he encourages us nonetheless to make sure to do our part---“as far as it depends on you.”  This, of course, takes some introspective.  Do we truly have the right attitude and frame of mind to be at peace with everyone?  If there is trouble, is there something I’m doing or saying which is not in accord with peace?  Well, these are only questions we can ask and answer ourselves.

The Corinthian ecclesia was one that struggled to achieve peace among its members.  As one final passage in this regards we’ll look at 2 Cor. 13:11 from the ESV,

“Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Cor. 13:11 ESV)

Aren’t these wonderful sentiments?  “Be perfect” in the KJV has the sense of mending so the ESV translates it “aim for restoration”.  I also like how the ESV translates “be of good comfort” as “comfort one another.”  The word comfort here is the Greek word “parakaleo” which we know also as the word “exhort”.  “Be of the same mind” is the literal translation, that is, be like minded and agree with one another.  Finally, Paul’s farewell bids them to “live in peace”.  It is the same message he gave to the Romans and he gives to us.


In conclusion, we’ve discussed how peace is elusive.  It was a problem in the first century ecclesias as it will be in ours so long as we have not developed the mind of Christ.  It is something to strive for; something to be desired and we have every assurance that it can be achieved even though it is past understanding.  Paul said, “let the peace of God rule in your hearts.”  That peace is found in his Son.  He is the one who we come to remember now.  So as we partake of the bread and wine, let us think on his words,

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27 KJV)