4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Anxiety is in the air, blowing hard and steady. And this even among the believers. The mood and views common in the unsaved, are oddly mirrored in those who should be experiencing the peace of God, through the God of peace. Why would this be so?
Yes, the news packaged for us is resoundingly bad. Unrest and division run deep. The drumbeat of revived tribalism grows louder. Violence in our communities begs identity as demonic. Nations overrun nations; murky alliances destabilize every point on the globe. I’ll leave off pandemics, social engineering, and why the Tigers can’t be pennant contenders. Even the weather is presented to push us to prepping: every snowfall is now categorized by a documentary-worthy title (“Winter Storm Festus.”) Natural disasters stream real-time through our devices, fascinating and terrifying, interspersed with feigned concern and the hawking of freeze-dried meal buckets, “secure” gold, or apocalypse-worthy shotguns.
The solutions for this unrest, flowing down from our elected or appointed voices, are of their own accord contradictory and baffling. I fail to see wisdom and understanding, for they speak of their own things, and not of the One who is Wisdom and Understanding.
To state the obvious, the unsaved world will naturally run to would-be saviors, get disappointed, and then turn to the next ones. Some choose to simply check out: stuff down the devastations and fleeting vain years, and buy more surgeries, trinkets and experiences. It’s a classic world-view: “When it’s over, it’s over.” Undoubtedly the pinnacle of reasoning, apart from God. Ask Solomon.
We are invited to join in with these summations and solutions from an unregenerate mankind. Do you see any followers of Christ who are leaving off faith, and lapsing (in attitude, or expressly) into this world-view? I might summarize some prevailing heart-attitudes I am encountering:
“It’s not like God to keep me so disappointed with my world.”
“It’s baffling that God isn’t mowing over the enemies.”
“It’s frustrating that God isn’t conforming everyone in my land to godly standards.”
“It’s unconscionable that churches dismiss God’s Word, yet increase in popularity and sway.”
“It’s uncomfortable that I am no longer comfortable.”
“Where is God in this mess?”
I would wax incredibly popular if I turned now to pen a snappy “3 easy steps to peace” article. How “relevant,” if it could actually be the last word—the true, quick-fix formula—we could all employ for instant and lasting results! If only I could chart out how to do “God by method.” It would probably sell a bunch of copies… maybe launch an e-book, or an Etsy site for themed merch.
Wildest dreams and profits aside, what I want to offer by application is very simple, extremely accessible, and completely contained in the Word of God. The Word that was declared to us, by which we learned the truth about God, our sin, and salvation through faith in Christ alone. I ask you to meditate on these questions, noting the verses of the Philippians passage at left:
:4 Rejoicing in the Lord cannot be sporadic, isolated, or dependent on your mood. What’s your corporate worship quotient? Too busy? Private, God-in-the-everyday evidence? Rejoicing is not for a happy occasion- it is the ongoing theme of the life focused on the great, unchanging Truth of Christ.
:5 Would “gentle spirit” be a description given of you by your mourners one day? Or are you known as “that guy” or “that gal” that couldn’t put up with us mere mortals?
:6 Are you praying without ceasing, or quite frankly, have ceased to pray? What is taking the reins producing in your life? How’s it going for the passengers stuck in your buggy?
:7 How do you experience the peace of God? How do you describe it? Is this a foreign concept to even consider? Are you trying to manufacture your own peace? How is that working out?
:8 Reading this list of worthy things to dwell on, what is your top 10 “dwell list?” News? Politics? The market? Security? Entertainment? Pornography? “Likes” on social tripe? Rest assured your top 10 is showing. It is coming out in speech, conduct, attitude, priorities, demeanor… The bucket draws up what the well contains.
:9 Pay attention to whom you follow. There are multitudes of egos that want you to “follow” them and emulate their poor choices. Their obsessions. Their sensuality. Their godless lives. If you live for their experiences, you will miss out on experiencing the God of Peace. You will enter eternity as a believer, watching your wood, hay and stubble burn. A forfeit of great opportunity for what could have been yours in the new heaven and earth that comes; all for handfuls of tripe in this world.
This is a call for return. For revival. It’s a fallen world. You cannot navigate your way to true peace, if you’ve left out the God of peace. Try it without Him, and see if I am a liar. Or maybe you’re trying it now, and getting the resultant anxiety and fear. Where have you gone? How is that working out for you? Have you found another path, another savior, another source of peace?
68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. John 6:68
The peace is presented. It does not have to be pled for, earned, or discovered. It needs to be appropriated. Walk in the Truth you have received. The God of Peace is within, and by walking by His Spirit, you will walk in the Peace of God.
27 “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:27