Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. – 2 Thessalonians 3:16 ESV
We could all use a little peace. We live in the midst of turmoil. Our lives are inundated with all kinds of demands and surrounded with a thousand different distractions. Technology, designed to make our lives easier, has actually ended up being little more than a huge distraction and time-waster. Phone messages, emails, texts and Facebook requests constantly interrupt our days. Our calendars are jammed. Our schedules are crammed. And our peace disappears under the pressure of it all. And that doesn’t even include all that is going on around us in the world. The news is rarely good. The media provides nothing but a steady diet of stories that leave us either restless, dissatisfied, and fearful about the future. And we long for peace. Which is exactly what Paul prayed for – the peace of God – the Lord of peace. What we all need is peace and the kind of peace that only God can provide. This world can’t provide us with peace. The things of this world are incapable of bringing a sense of peace. Like everything else associated with the Christian life, peace must come from God.
Paul was a student of the Old Testament Scriptures and he was highly familiar with the Pentateuch. So he was well aware of what it says is Deuteronomy 6:26: “May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.” God’s favor carries the idea of Him looking on His people favorably. Rather than looking away in anger at their sins, He looks on them with mercy, grace and love. And that should bring us peace, a sense of calm, tranquility, contentment and joy – even in the midst of all that is going on around us. The God of the universe, the creator of all things, loves us. When everything is falling apart around us, we can know that God loves us, because He sent His Son to die for us. He cares for us. He has His best in store for us. And that sense of His love, care, and compassion should bring us peace. But the peace Paul prayed for was more than just personal or individual peace. He also longed for peace between brothers and sisters in Christ. The Greek word is eirēnē, and it can mean, “peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord.” When we get under stress and find ourselves in turmoil, it is easy to get crossways with one another. We can begin to point fingers, pass blame, grow distrustful, resentful and angry with one another. But God’s desire is that we live together in unity. In fact, Jesus Himself prayed for that very thing on the night He would be betrayed: “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us” (John 17:21 ESV). Oneness, unity, peace – the state of corporate harmony experienced by God’s people as they learn to rely upon Him. The Psalmist reminds us, “How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!” (Psalm 133:1 NLT).
Peace. It’s what we all need. But it seems so illusive and impossible to find. But we tend to look in the wrong places. We seek it from the wrong sources. We must never forget that when sin entered into the world, God’s peace, His shalom, was shattered. The garden, once a place of uninterrupted communion with God, became marred by the rebelliousness of Adam and Eve. Their desire to be like God brought a disruption to the tranquility of their environment and permanently damaged their relationship with God. Peace was quickly replaced with chaos. Joy was replaced with sorrow. Intimacy with God was replaced by enmity with God. But the prophet Isaiah prophesied that when the Messiah came, all of this would change. “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5 ESV). Long before Jesus appeared on the scene, Isaiah predicted His sacrificial death on the cross and the amazing reality of restored peace with God made available to us through His death and resurrection. Paul tells us, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1 ESV). We are at peace with God. He looks on us favorably and lovingly. All because of what Jesus Christ has done for us. But we need to be constantly reminded of our new status with Him. We are no longer enemies of God. We are no longer alienated from Him because of our sin. We are His children and He loves us. And that very fact should bring us peace – even in the midst of the storms of life. Paul reminds us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT).