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The Marks of a Christian - Peace

So far in our series, we have seen how as true followers of Jesus we are to be characterized by our love for God and for others and that if we follow God’s way of life, we will find joy that is lasting and goes far beyond our current circumstances: joy that we can hold onto. None of this is possible on our own. Left to ourselves, we will not display these characteristics. But God has not left us on our own, unable to love others or experience real joy. No, He has given us His Holy Spirit to be our helper, to convict us of our sin, and to enable us to love others, have joy, and as we are seeing today, to have real peace in our hearts and with others.

John 14:26-27 - 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

  • Jesus is speaking to His disciples here, encouraging them because He is about to be crucified and ascend to heaven. In many ways, the disciples easily could have felt like they were being abandoned or left to fend for themselves. Jesus corrects this, by telling them about the Holy Spirit who would come to be their helper. The Holy Spirit would both remind the disciples of what Jesus had said and would also bring peace to their hearts.

  • Remember, it is only because of the Spirit indwelling us as true followers of Jesus that we are able to have and experience this peace. When we have the Spirit with us, we do not need to be afraid or be troubled.

  • Now, obviously, we know that we do not naturally have peace. We all experience worry, fears, and such. But if we know Jesus as our Savior, we don’t have to worry! When we remember that we serve and know the God who has made everyone and everything and has the power and ability to do something about our circumstances, why should we fear?

  • My daughter is two years old, and occasionally she wakes up crying with a bad dream. When this happens, I will rush in and pick her up and tell her, “It’s okay. Daddy’s here, I got you. You’re safe.” After getting her a tissue to blow her nose and wipe her tears, I will sing to her, pray with her, and tuck her back in. And guess what? Most times, she falls back asleep because she trusts that her daddy truly does have her and that she is safe. She has experienced the peace that comes with trusting in someone who cares for her and who she believes can do something about her fears.

  • While my heart certainly is to protect my daughter from all of her fears, even from bad dreams, we know from experience that, as humans, we are finite. I am not truly able to protect her from all bad things or give her real peace when she is scared.

  • Unlike me, God is able. He is sovereign and over all and has the ability to change our circumstances and change hearts. Not only that, but He is already at work to accomplish our good and His glory. So, when we choose to trust in Him and remind ourselves of this reality, there is real peace that is ours in knowing Jesus. Just like my daughter, even when we experience real fears and are scared, we can run to our Father, who has our best interests at heart and can truly keep us safe.

Romans 12:17-19 - 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

  • This peace that we experience from our Father should affect the way we live. In fact, in Colossians 3:15, Paul tells us that we should let this peace that comes from knowing Christ as our Savior “rule in our hearts.” When we dwell in the peace that comes from God, it should affect how we treat others.

  • In Romans here, Paul says that we should never repay others evil for evil. We should never, as Christians, retaliate against those who harm us. This is super counter-cultural! How many of you feel like you would want to treat someone with respect who disrespects you? How about if they call you a name or punch you? Yeah, you aren’t feeling too kind toward them. And that’s our point! We don’t naturally do these things. We don’t naturally seek to be at peace with others. So, we should expect to find the world that we live in prioritizing getting even with others and paying them back. But, as a true follower of Jesus, who has experienced the peace that comes from knowing Jesus as your Savior, you are called to a higher standard and way of living.

  • Paul says that we should “so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all.” You cannot change hearts, only God can do this. So there is a very real possibility that you will do everything with the help of the Holy Spirit to be at peace with someone else and they will refuse to accept that. But these verses are not about what others do, but about what you do in return. We are called to, as much as possible, live at peace with others. This has serious implications for how we live our lives and how we react to others.

  • Paul’s point, and I believe God’s desire, is not for Christians to be a doormat that gets walked over or to stay in a situation of real abuse and mistreatment, but it is to entrust yourself to the One who has the power to do something about your situation and to allow God to fight for you. He will defend His people and we can trust and know that He is returning to put down forever those who refuse to repent and come to Him, to abolish sin, death, and Satan forever. So, the idea is not that we as Christians are weak or don’t speak up for ourselves or get out of a bad situation, but that we let God fight for us while seeking to do good to others and offer forgiveness and peace as much as we can by the power of the Spirit.

  • None of this is natural. When someone offends me, I do not want to invite them over for dinner, much less, even talk to them. If someone offends my wife or speaks meanly about my children, that’s even harder to treat them with love and be at peace with them. But with God, I am able to offer them the forgiveness that has been shown to me and to seek to be at peace with those that God has placed in my life.

So, where does this leave us? Well, if we are truly saved, we can have peace as we allow the Holy Spirit to remind us of who God is and what He has done. God is over all, therefore, to trust in Him is the most logical and peace-brining decision we can make. When we understand what Christ has done for us and experience the peace of life with Him, we are to show that to others and allow God to fight for us when others refuse to live in peace with us.

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