The apple harvest has begun, as the temperatures drop and combines hum in the distance, resulting in the formation of delicious preserves to enjoy over the winter; applesauce, apple juice, and pie filling.
With two large bags of apples, I began to gather ingredients for a new recipe of pie filling that I was planning to can. One ingredient I was missing was tapioca.
The hunt for my missing ingredient revealed that the whole province is out of tapioca. Yes, the chain of supply was either interrupted, or the demand too high, leaving me left to figure out what to do next.
(Who would’ve thought that we could learn economics so very tangibly!)
Our local grocer recommended using a modified cornstarch, which he had on hand. It worked perfect and -moral of the story - the filling tastes great!
Looking for a new plan helped me realize, while I can substitute for tapioca, there is no substitute for peace.
Angst, anxiety and fears come to the surface of our lives in both calm seasons of life and the tumultuous. We don’t like these feelings. We try to stuff them, we panic that we even have them, and we attempt to forget them by finding peace in all manner of ways we normally cope (watching TV, buying the next greatest thing…)
But looking for a substitute will not quench the deep longing inside of us for that peace that surpasses all understanding. What is it that we are searching for? What is the true meaning of peace?
Here are some biblical thoughts about what peace actually is.
1. A Feeling of Peace & Rest
We understand peace to be a feeling of serenity and rest, and it is that, but there’s more. The Tyndale Bible Dictionary describes peace as “total wellbeing, prosperity and security associated with God’s presence among his people.”
The Old Testament talks about peace, shalom, in the context of the covenant God made with His people. Peace was conditional, based on the obedience of Israel. As their disobedience increased, so did the adversity they experienced with the surrounding nations, landing the Israelites into exile.
“The Lord will bless his people with peace” Ps 29:11
Peace is a gift given to us by God, as we follow Him in obedience.
On this journey we will experience a wide variety of circumstances and emotions, yet this peace flows out of our faithful walk with Him. We endeavor, by the grace of God, to “seek peace and pursue it” (Ps 34:14) in our practices of spiritual growth: Reading the Bible, prayer, corporate worship, etc.
We stumble, we get lazy, we forget. Our relationship with the Lord can be a battle as we work out our salvation. Let’s not forget that our position in Christ means we are redeemed. When we slip up – which we are guaranteed to do - we confess, we repent and we take steps in the right direction again to pursue peace with God.
Where do you need to repent in order to follow Christ in obedience?
2. A State of Reconciliation with God
There is no other way to be in relationship with God, other than through His son Jesus, “for he himself is our peace” (Eph 2:14). His life, death and resurrection have made a way for us, graciously providing us peace with God, ushering in the new covenant.
It’s what God planned for Him to accomplish. Zechariah proclaims that the Messiah would “give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:79).
Friend, our lives have been purchased by God! A feat that no human strength could obtain. He has come that we would have life and have it to the full. Not a mere ticket to heaven, the best possible life for us today! We can be at peace with God through Jesus. It's not just a feeling, it is restored relationship with our Creator.
Are you reconciled with God?
3. An Exercise of the Christian Community
Having access to this amazing grace as part of the new covenant, places on us an external demand that we are to fulfill, embodying this reconciliation among God’s people.
This is tough.
I’m not sure that there are any greater challenges to the Christian community than those involving offences and broken relationships. Breeding disunity in the church is an extremely effective tool of the enemy.
We may be offended, we could be wronged, or our rights are taken away. We hold that banner high, demanding resolve, because it feels good to be owed restitution. Yet, teaching His disciples Jesus says, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and the men of high position exercise power over them. It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.” (Matt 20:25-27 HCSB)
It must not be like that among us. These are heavy words. They require us to put aside our own desires, our own opinions, and humble ourselves before our brothers and sisters in Christ, that God’s love can manifest and His peace reside over us. We must reach out, even in our hurts, even when they don’t reach out first…or don’t acknowledge it, because our new life in Christ is given to us by God, for His glory, and for the good of others. We embody the peace He has given us and extend it to those around us.
Are you harboring offences? How can you be a peacemaker in your community?
4. The Ultimate Result of Our Salvation
As we are reconciled with Christ, to live day to day for Him, we wait expectantly for His kingdom to come, for His majestic return to make all things new. As the prophets reached out to Israel, reminding them of the Messiah, they spoke about the restoration of Israel, but also about the end times when Christ will come in all His glory.
For at that time, “He will proclaim peace to the nations.” (Zech 9:10) and promises, “I will provide peace in this place’ – this is the declaration of the Lord of hosts” (Hag 2:9).
His return will signify our complete restoration, the end of all suffering and pain, and the beginning of glorious worship; the completion of what His peace is meant to establish.
There is no substitute for peace. While we may search fervently, try many other routes to find it, the beautiful discovery lies in what peace truly is, found only in a Person, the Prince of Peace.
May we be people who know and understand the truth of God's peace, and share that peace with others, as we wait for Him.
How does understanding peace strengthen my spiritual life?