Advent 14: Peace and the Steadfastness of God

God is not the author of confusion, but of peace. – 1 Corinthians 14:33 (KJV)

Peace.  Stop for a moment and savor that word.  Let it simmer a while in your soul.  Peace is a wonderful gift from God, and the clearer we understand it, the more we appreciate the gift.

Peace is not merely the absence of conflict.  It isn’t limited to the laying down of arms, signed armistices or a hippie ideal of ending all war.  These are outward signs of a cessation of aggression.

But peace – true, lasting peace – is something far deeper than signatures on a piece of paper or John and Yoko singing “Give Peace a Chance”.  Peace is unity: unity of spirit, unity of purpose.  It is finding a oneness with others, and with God.  Peace is the product of laying down self for the sake of unity in love.

Peace is the prosperity of the soul.  A soul at peace is one that is calm, focused, filled with faith and joy.  It is the polar opposite of chaos.  Take a moment to look at God’s creation.  Everything works together in harmony, in peace.    Right now it’s winter.  The earth is at rest.  But spring will come, bring the warmth and the rains that cause the fields to spring to life.  Summer brings the sun and heat needed to mature the fruit of the trees and plants and, come autumn, the harvest.

Look at the perfect positioning of the earth.  Angled at just the right axis, revolving around the sun at just the right distance and speed, turning at just the right speed… day, night, tides, atmosphere, gravity… all working together in perfect harmony.  All God’s creation at peace, working as one.

God Himself is the perfect example of peace, of oneness.  The Trinity – Father, Son, Holy Spirit – in harmony as One.  United in purpose.  Bound by love.  No confusion.

Let’s take a moment and look at this passage:

23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. 25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 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. 28  You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here. – John 14:23-31 (ESV)

Here we have a beautiful example of peace.  The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – unified as One God, working together, each in His distinct personage and role but All in harmony with One Another.  And, if we love the Lord, we are at peace with God as well.  And if we are unified in purpose and love with God, we have no reason to worry.  No need for doubt.  We have the peace Christ has given us.

That peace – the stillness that enables rest – comes from faithful unity with God’s purposes.  Seeking first the kingdom of God and not worrying about all the things that draw our attention away from Him.

“Not as the world gives do I give,” Jesus promised.  In the world there are always strings attached.  Even “love” is conditional.  Everything here is temporary and subject to change. But God is steadfast. “For I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6, ESV).  Only God has the authority and strength and ability to never change.  God is always right, always just, always true.  He is always Who He says He is and will always do what He says He will do.  It is His very character.  God possesses a perfect absoluteness that we sinful being cannot.  He is our Solid Rock, our Foundation.  In Him, and Him alone, we find perfect peace – stillness of spirit, rest for our souls, the calming of the chaos around us, the right unity of purpose for our lives.

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)

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