Peace is a byproduct of God’s presence. This weekend, Pastor John Ortberg said, “Peace is the byproduct of a soul that abides with God.” I believe most would define it differently. Instead, it would go something like this, “Peace is the byproduct of a life free of struggle and conflict.” But is that achievable?
Our struggles and conflicts often create anxiety in us. Ortberg shared that “anxiety tries to get us to predict the future and worry about it.” When we begin to think that way, the worst possible scenario and imagined likely outcome takes away any chance of finding peace.
While we want to experience more peace, we can’t have peace if we constantly worry. But how can we stop worrying when our world is filled with uncertain outcomes, fear, failure, and great loss?
One of the big takeaways from this weekend was that becoming a peaceful person requires living with unpeaceful feelings.
To make this point, Pastor Ortberg shared a few of Jesus’ life circumstances that would undoubtedly have caused unpeaceful feelings. In his first years on Earth, his family fled their home in Bethlehem to escape King Herod the Great’s command to slaughter all the boys aged 2 and younger. This was in an attempt to eliminate Jesus.
Later, throughout Jesus’ ministry, he experienced hunger, thirst, and exhaustion as he served the multitudes. He grieved when loved ones died. Those close to him betrayed him, and ultimately, he was rejected, mocked, beaten, and crucified by those he came to save.
Yet, Jesus was a man of deep peace through it all. Theologian Dallas Willard said that if he had one word to describe Jesus, he would use the word “relaxed.” I am not sure that is a word people would use to describe me.
I currently have circumstances in my life that are causing unpeaceful emotions. These circumstances range from having a house that needs multiple major home repairs to having family members experiencing health issues. Anxiety has me thinking about everything that could go wrong. I realize that worry does nothing to improve these circumstances, so I tell myself to stop. That doesn’t work, though, because simply trying harder to experience peace doesn’t actually produce peace.
We learned this weekend that the answer to experiencing more peace in our lives isn’t to remove the feelings of uncertainty, fear, failure, or loss, but instead, to learn to have peace even while having these unpeaceful feelings. Over the next few days of the LivingItOut, we will look at Philippians 4:4-8 and how we can receive peace.
4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 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. 8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Where it starts, though, is with your connection to God. Peace is a byproduct of God’s presence. As Ortberg said, we are invited not to try really, really hard but to learn, instead, to abide in the presence of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and today he offers you peace no matter what you’re experiencing.
John 14:27 NIV
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Who in your life would you describe as a person of deep peace?
Can someone experience a peace-filled life even if life’s circumstances are not peaceful?
Where does peace come from?
Read Philippians 4:4-8. Write this verse down and carry it with you throughout the day. Then, ask God to open your eyes to what your next step is to experience the peace he offers.
Commit to reading the LivingItOut everyday this week, and be open to receive what God shows you through it.
Dear heavenly Father, you are the provider of peace. I praise you because you bring calm to the storms in our lives. Forgive me for the times I try to gain peace out of my strength instead of letting it be a byproduct of my relationship with you. Thank you for being patient with me and for offering me the peace I need. As I go throughout this week, help me see how I can best connect with you and live out the truths from your word.
This post was written by Ben Bockert. Ben is a proud husband and father of three beautiful daughters. He is honored to serve as the Director of the LivingItOut Bible Study.
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