A Fruit of the Spirit

Attaining Peace In A World Of Turmoil

Tom Ruggirello

"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

Peace is the end result of faith, and without faith it is impossible to please God. If inner peace is lost in times of trial, then that peace was not from the Lord. Important spiritual lessons are gained by learning to look to the Lord for peace. His peace will not flee in time of trouble.

Worldly Peace

People often seek peace through wealth, believing that financial security will guarantee peace. To some extent this is true. Wealth certainly removes the stress of worrying about many everyday matters. Peace of heart on a worldly level becomes dependent on the constant presence of natural resources such as money and material possessions. This level of peace is transitory. When money and possessions are removed, the peace is lost.

God’s Peace

The true peace of God is not effected by external forces. The peace that God possesses is total and absolute and nothing can disturb it. The source of God’s peace is from his own vast inherent resources of power and wisdom. He is at peace because of his own abilities and powers. The sense of total control and authority establishes his peace. Peace is the natural effect of his inherent goodness.

Revevelation 4:11 says, ". . . thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." By creating intelligent beings, God’s desire was to have fellowship and communion with them as sons, establishing a father-son relationship. In dealing with individual members of mankind, God can bring each to a higher spiritual level for spiritual communion with Him.

God’s peace does not come as a result of having everything in creation at peace with him. In fact, he is coexisting with disorder and trouble which has plagued his creation. God’s family, both human and spiritual, have willfully ignored his purposes. Lucifer, the morning star, fell from heaven and rebelliously defied all of God’s purposes. God’s perfect creation has been damaged and marred by the ugliness of sin. Even with all these situations, God maintains perfect peace.

The greatest magnitude of pain must have been experienced by God when he watched Jesus suffer innocently, and in hearing his prayer, God was not able to fully grant relief because a higher purpose needed to be fulfilled in accordance with his plan for all mankind. Through this great sorrow God’s peace of mind and heart was not disturbed. His full confidence in his own wisdom and abilities provided perfect peace. He knew that sinners will be given the opportunity to repent and return to fellowship with him. He knew that his plan was in progress. He rests in peace because he knows that no one has the power to disrupt his plan. Inner tranquility compensates for the pain that must be endured.

Therefore, God’s peace can coexist with trouble and pain and sorrow, because his peace is not dependent on outward circumstances. His perfect peace is generated by the proper balance of his heart and the stabilizing force of his mind.

Seek Peace

In the John 14, Jesus tells his disciples that the holy spirit will be sent as a comforter which will teach them, and then he presents the concept of inner peace. "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" (vs. 27). Jesus is the channel through which God’s peace is given. God’s peace was a way of life for Jesus and the same peace should be sought by followers of Jesus.

"God hath called us to peace" ( 1 Cor. 7:15).

"For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints" (1 Cor. 14:33).

". . . be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you" (2 Cor. 13:11).

"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable" (James 3:17).

Jesus always acknowledged God as the source of his strength. God is the source of peace that Jesus offers to his followers. True inner peace is immovable in time of trouble, because it is not based on self-confidence, but has full confidence in God. There is a definite relationship between faith in God and peace of heart. A strong and sure confidence that God is able and willing to help in time of trouble reflects a stable, peaceful outlook on life.

After the promise of peace to his disciples, Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, put on trial and crucified. The three days that Jesus laid in the tomb were extremely difficult for the disciples. They no longer had their master physically present to comfort and lead them. Their hearts were very troubled. This was the beginning of a new phase of their spiritual development. Jesus would still be their source of strength, but in a different, more mature way. They began to understand that Jesus’ resurrection proved his worthiness as the Messiah. Their inner peace began to develop with their new understanding and with his post resurrection appearances their faith was reborn, but based on a deeper knowledge. Their heads were coming together with their hearts.

"Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:1).

A Formula For Peace: Peace Of God = Contentment + Love

What is Contentment? True spiritual contentment is directly related to a personal relationship with God, total trust in His will and the removal of self will from all matters. If the Lord’s will is incorrectly interpreted and the wrong course is chosen, the mistake can be corrected by God and is readily accepted as divinely overruled by a mature Christian.

But Godliness with contentment is great gain. "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content" (1 Tim. 6:6-8).

The word godliness means to be devout, to have piety and reverence. The two words together, godliness and contentment describe the proper Christian attitude—a reverential tone and an attitude of acceptance. Complete satisfaction in the Lord’s will brought peace to Jesus, and following this example, the mature Christian rests in God’s will, also.

What is Love?

In the theme text Jesus says, "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." Fear is an enemy of peace. Love is the remedy for fear. "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love: (1 John 4:18).

When Jesus told his disciples that he was going to die, their reaction was fear for themselves. They had not developed perfect love yet. Perfect love does not think about self; it is interested in the highest spiritual welfare of others. In recognizing their fear, Jesus responded: "Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I" (John 14:28).

If the disciples’ love for Jesus had been fully developed and unselfish, fear for their own needs would not have existed. Their reaction would have been happiness, because Jesus’ death meant the blessing of being with his Heavenly Father. Their love for Jesus would overcome fear for their own pain and hardship. Love overcomes fear.

An Expanded Formula For Peace:
Perfect peace = Contentment in God’s Will +
Agape Love

When a Christian is not at peace, one or both of the two elements in the above formula should be considered: 1) contentment in the Father’s will may be deficient, or 2) the heart is focused on self, revealing the lack of agape love.

An example of these two principles is shown in Paul’s letter to the Philippians. "Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. . . Be careful for nothing;(be anxious for nothing, or do not have a troubled heart) but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:1, 6, 7).

Paul expressed genuine concern and love for his fellow brethren. He encouraged them to not let anything trouble them, but to take all their requests to the Lord in prayer. Paul mentions part of the key to unlocking the power of prayer. He says to pray with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving shows a heart appreciation for God. Fully accepting the result of prayer as being God’s will brings great peace and contentment. The peace of God which passes the understanding of natural men fills the hearts and minds of God’s spiritual creatures.

Peace In Ecclesias

The application of 1) God’s will, and 2) agape love can affect the spirit of an ecclesia. When each member focuses on selfless love and prefers others before self, a love that wants only the blessing of the brethren results. Words are gentle, comments are full of kindness, and each looks for opportunities to be a blessing. The spirit of the Lord reigns and, indeed "the love of Christ constraineth us" (2 Cor. 5:14).

The love of Christ binds brethren together as a powerful unifying force. As each member of an ecclesia is rightly exercised with the peace of God, a respect for one another is cultivated. Recognizing and respecting one another’s personal relationship with the Lord shows true love for one another.

Peace Through Prayer

The degree of peace in a Christian’s life is a direct reflection of closeness to the Lord. The apostle Peter says to "cast all your care upon him; for he careth for you" (1 Peter 5:7). The Phillips translation of this same verse says, "You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon him, for you are his personal concern." All thoughts, desires, decisions, and activities of life can be presented to the Lord in prayer. Let us have full faith in believing that we are his personal concern, trusting in his wisdom to overrule the affairs of life. May God grant us grace and strength to daily commit ourselves to his will, and develop the perfect love which casts away fear.l