God wants you to experience his peace in the midst of this evil age, and there’s more to that than you might realize.
When we think of God’s peace, we tend to imagine an inner experience, or a sense of quiet. The word can refer to those things, but it is primarily one of the big salvation words in scripture.
Peace is a big salvation word.
Peace is a large theological term that typically refers to:
The work of God in bringing his people rest from the trials and troubles of attackers
The work of God in conquering his enemies and bringing them into a right relationship with him
For example, God offers us peace with himself through the gift of salvation. In Romans chapter 5, Paul wrote,
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)
The brokenness between human creatures and God has been taken away through the saving work of Christ. We are no longer an enmity.
In Old Testament scripture, God’s people obtained rest, or peace, when they entered into the Promised Land. Conversely, they didn’t receive peace or rest when they refused to drive out the Canaanites as the Lord had instructed them.
The word peace can also have a psychological implication. In Philippians 4, the words peace and contentment seem to point, on the one hand, to broken relationships in the Philippian congregation. (Philippians 4:2)
Paul may have also had in mind the stress, anxiety, and strife that can come to us in life. He mentioned his own potential anxiety later on in the passage, and told his readers that he’d learned how to handle it:
…I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. (Philippians 4:11-12)
Paul wrote that we ought to “Be anxious for nothing.” (Philippians 4:6) If we are constantly alarmed by our opponents, we’re not experiencing the peace and salvation of God. But if you, in unity with fellow Christians, are not alarmed at your opponents, that is a sign of salvation for you and destruction for them.
The New Creation
For Paul, the way we live here and now is a token and a sign of one of two orders. Either we participate in the new creation of Christ and experience salvation now, or we don’t understand—or choose not to participate in—what is ours in the new creation.
If you want to be at peace and to participate in Christ’s new creation, then don’t let the brokenness, the troubles, and the stresses of this fallen age dominate who you are. Have a reputation for being generous of mind and spirit. Let your forbearing spirit be known to all.
The Lord is near and will provide. He gives grace, not only for physical sustenance, but for healing our relationships. Don’t let your life be dominated by those things that are a sign of this present evil age.
But how do you do that? How can you learn to experience the peace God offers you? I’ll talk about that in my next blog post, when I’ll describe some of the habits and attitudes Paul urged us to cultivate in the face of strife.
The previous was adapted by Rachel Motte from a talk Dr. Sloan gave on October 10, 2010.