“Peace on Earth” is a mainstay of the Christmas message and has been for years. But if that’s the case, why don’t we have peace on Earth?
Maybe we’re looking in the wrong place!
““I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27 NLT)
Jesus gives a peace that the world cannot give. And the good news is… it’s free!
But sometimes we need some help in order to get the most out of the gift. Some gifts come with instructions that show you how to put things together, or how to use it… and maintain it.
Jesus’ peace is no different. So I offer these two steps to help you get and maintain the peace Jesus offers.
We have two basic options when it comes to focus: We can focus on finding peace inside ourselves, or outside ourselves. So where should a Christian focus? (Outside, in Christ… right?)
Actually… I’m going to say Christians should focus INSIDE for peace. But here’s the catch: first, we invite the Holy Spirit to dwell in us. To the extent that Christ lives IN us via the Holy Spirit, we will find the kind of peace that Jesus gives. Peace, after all, is one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit (See Fruit? Or Fruits?).
When I do this successfully, I experience contentment and deep peace.
There’s an interesting paradox here:
This internal focus leads to external results… and,
any external focus leads to internal results.
Let’s unpack this. If I have the proper internal focus (Holy Spirit in me), then not only do I find peace, I can share that peace with others. I can be a “peace distributor.” After all, it’s not my peace… it’s a gift from Christ, so I can share it freely. My internal focus has led to external results.
On the other hand, if I focus on the outside, I get internal results. If I’m counting on that new job… new car… new husband/wife to give me peace, eventually I will feel it on the inside. I may experience turmoil, worry, and perhaps even physical symptoms like ulcers or illnesses.
What worse is that when I look on the outside for peace, I hand over the reigns to someone or something else to determine if I’m going to have a peace-filled day. Perhaps I have surrendered my peace to rush hour traffic (not a good investment!), or that cranky customer, or that difficult student, and so on.
So, how do I get peace? Invite the Holy Spirit in… and FOCUS!
Now, how do I keep that peace?
2. BE HOSPITABLE
Be a good host! Spend time with Christ in prayer, in Bible study, in thinking about how to live your faith. Share with others what you’re learning. Get someone you trust and keep each other mutually accountable to your focus, and to your hospitality.
Paul has this suggestion on how to be a good host:
“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. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil 4:8–9 NLT)
At the end of the day, finding peace from the outside will always depend on someone, or something else. Do you really want to leave your peace in someone else’s hands?
Where do you struggle in finding Christ’s peace? Where have you seen people successfully live into Christ’s peace? What can you learn from them?