Can you have peace in the midst of conflict?
Are you searching for peace in the midst of conflict? Laura and I (Nick) have been talking about the vision of this LFLS ministry.
We’ve made some steps to move it forward and we are doing some new things. (She’s still waiting on me to write a lot of things that we are planning to put out.)
I wouldn’t say that I have been procrastinating, I have just been very busy, and not in the living slow kind of way, but in the way that work is just busy.
We are excited though, we have a lot of things on the horizon and we couldn’t be more thrilled about where we believe God is going with this.
Today I want to talk to you guys about what it means to live a peace-filled life. What does peace look like? Where does it come from? How we can have that?
You know, you look around right now, and it seems like the entire world is in chaos.
Peace in the midst of conflict is not the norm.
There are so many ways to describe what’s happening in the world these days, and peace is not one of them.
I think when we talk about living a peace-filled life, we really have to examine what that means.
When you imagine someone with a peace-filled life, you might think of a wealthy person who doesn’t seem to have a lot of care in the world.
Maybe you think of someone who doesn’t appear to be affected by everything going on in the political world.
Or maybe it’s someone that you would describe as laid back; they’re never worried because they believe that things just work themselves out (I tend to be that guy most of the time).
Then there are some people that just have that cool, calm, collected feel all of the time. And you just wonder what it is that they have and how they got it.
Maybe they have peace in their lives, but maybe not…I can’t speak to what’s going on in their heart.
But what I can tell you is that most people consider peace the absence of conflict or a lack of problematic opposition.
And when we think of peace on a biblical level, that’s really not peace at all, it may seem like peace, but it’s actually just calm. True peace is something totally different.
Peace is what gives us the ability to maintain confidence, a sense of direction, and a heart of focus in the midst of conflict.
How can we have peace in the midst of conflict?
There are a couple of passages I want to point to in the New Testament that talk about peace. I want to start in chapter 16 of John, if you haven’t read it, go check it out, it’s amazing to read all of the things He says to them.
He’s getting ready to die on the cross and is telling his disciples that a lot of crazy things will happen and His reason for letting them know is so that when it does happen, they will remember Him warning them.
“Yes, I’m telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning. I didn’t tell you earlier because I was going to be with you for a while longer.” John 16:4
You can imagine that it was probably pretty alarming to hear the things He was saying, but then He finishes it with this:
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Over in chapter 14, He had said something very similar, then He told them that he was sending the Holy Spirit, basically He said that He was sending another version of Himself to be with them, to give them peace.
“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
Now this promise of peace must have been a shocker to the disciples, and here’s why, because their definition of peace was probably much like yours and mine.
He’s just told them that He’s going to die, they’re going to scatter, and they’re going to be dispersed because of Him…that doesn’t sound peaceful.
Fast forward to when Jesus goes into the garden to pray. He asks the disciples to pray, but instead they all fall asleep. He goes on and prays, comes back and wakes them up, they’re worn out, and then Jesus is arrested.
They stayed with Him for a minute, Peter even drew his sword on the guard, but once they arrested Jesus and took Him for questioning, the disciples were gone. All those closest to Jesus had vanished.
And I think that a lot of that is because they forgot, in the moment, what Jesus had said before. He had said in the world they would have trouble, tribulations, problems, and conflicts; but He had said those things to them so that in Him they would have peace.
That sure doesn’t sound like peace.
But then He says this, “Take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
There is the peace.
So when we talk about living a peace-filled life and what that looks like, I think that for me, the best way to put it is choosing to lean into that promise no matter what I’m experiencing.
And guys listen, I’m really laid back, but I can also be really high strung. When things aren’t going the way that I want them to go, it is very difficult for me to have peace.
But what I have noticed is that in the things that don’t matter, that’s when I am lacking peace. However, in the things that matter the most, that is when God’s presence in me surprises me.
It’s like in times when I should be (from a human perspective) really up in arms or lacking peace, that’s when God supernaturally intervenes and gives me that peace.
Jesus had peace in the midst of conflict.
Jesus says “Take heart, because I have overcome the world” is Him saying that there is nothing in this world that can harm you, there is nothing that can take away the one thing that matters, and that is your relationship to Him.
We’ll finish over in chapter 4 in Phillipians, Paul is writing whole passages to the Phillipian church about joy, specifically joy in the midst of suffering because the church was being heavily persecuted.
In fact, Paul is writing this letter from prison. In regards to how we should handle times of crisis, he says:
“Don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.
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.” Phillipians 4:6-7
I think a lot of times we lack peace because we are not thankful, all we see is the conflict around us and we focus on that.
You want to find peace? Focus on thankfulness, focus on the joys and gifts that you have been given.
Then we can ask Him for the things that we need. Now it doesn’t mean that He will automatically grant us everything that we ask for, He’s not a genie in a bottle.
But I think that when we are thankful when we are connected in a great way to what God is doing, when we spend time in God’s word, and then we pray for peace in the midst of conflict, I believe that God will give it to us.