by Rob Hendricks
The peace of God is such a beautiful thought that often brings tranquility and silence to my restless heart. However, we often attribute the peace of God to a sense of carefree happiness and to be a shield for life’s troubles. The concept of God withholding the inward and outward trials of life could not be further from the truth marked throughout God’s Word. In fact, by giving our life to Christ, two things in particular happen: first, we receive justification from our condemnation as sinners, and second, we are adopted as sons of the Father and brothers of Christ in God’s family. As adopted sons of God’s family, we are infinitely loved and cared for by the Creator of the universe. But, much like our earthly fathers (and even more so), God the Father, in love, uses discipline and trials of all kinds to achieve His purpose of making us holy, growing more in the image of Christ. In his bookKnowing God, J.I. Packer says, “The clue to understanding all [of God’s] dealings with [His children] is to remember that throughout their lives He is training them for what awaits them, and chiseling them into the image of Christ.”
In the book of Hebrews, the author says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastens everyone he accepts as His son…[Discipline] produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:5b, 11).
With these truths about the hardships of life established, it is important to move past a concept of God that views Him as a giver of earthly prosperity and relaxation. Jesus even says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). What is the peace of God then, if it isn’t about prosperity and earthly blessings?
It is not as much the “peace of God” as it is “peace with God.” According to Packer, the primary ingredient of God’s peace isn’t the “power to face and to live with our own badness and failings” or “contentment under ‘the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.’” Rather these are products of God’s peace. The main component of God’s peace is in fact the pardon and justification we received when Christ died on the cross for our sins. At the root of the Gospel lies the sacrifice of Christ to bridge the gap between sinners separated from a perfectly righteous God. Through Christ’s sacrifice, God “[reconciled] to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through [Christ’s] blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:20).
Thus, as Packer illustrates, “the peace of God is first and foremost peace with God; it is the state of affairs in which God, instead of being against us, is for us…The peace of God, then, primarily and fundamentally, is a new relationship of forgiveness and acceptance.” Through this peace of God found in Christ’s sacrifice and our subsequent pardon, we can find rest in our reconciliation with the God of the universe. By finding unwarranted acceptance into God’s family, we find hope and strength in the promises of God which allow us to say with confidence: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content in whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11-13). Daily, we can approach our God, casting our anxieties and troubles on Him solely because the grace of God provided us peace with God through Christ on the cross.
Just as the lyrics of Hillsong United’s new single “Prince of Peace” so eloquently illustrate, when my thoughts wage war and fear comes knocking, God has provided peace and rest by adopting us as sons through Christ’s sacrifice. What a beautiful gift.