Sunday, July 3, 2011

Touching Base! Part 132

Peace On Guard
Guest posting by Eric Prost

(This article can also we found on our website at
http://www.bethelkingston.comunder the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Main Text: Philippians 4:7

Peace is sometimes defined as “the absence of war”. This is true. However, “peace”, in scripture, often means much more than this. It is an active word, full of meaning and impact, not merely the absence of something.

For example, read Isaiah 26:3 – “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you”. This verse is not talking about the end of war but about peace as an attribute that God controls and gives to us.

Or read John 14:27 – “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”. This verse is certainly not talking about the absence of conflict or war. After Jesus returned to the Father, his followers experienced a lot of conflict and persecution. And yet he still promised peace.

Question: What then is this peace that God says is a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22?

Question: Is it peace with God? (What other verses illuminate the idea of peace with God?)

It certainly includes this, and only followers of Christ with their sins forgiven can show the peace of Galatians 5. But could it mean more than the peace of knowing our sins are forgiven?

Question: Is it peace with others? (How is this crucial to leading a Christian life?)

It probably includes this, too. Pastor Mark taught on love two weeks ago and how that fruit of the Spirit should show in our community with others around us.

Question: Could peace mean even more than this though?

Peace as a concept – and a symbol – in the ‘60s and ‘70s was often countercultural and anti-establishment, a symbol of protest. The scriptural definition is not politicized and yet is more revolutionary than any opposition to the Vietnam War could create. The scriptural concept is richer, the bar raised much higher. It is nothing short of the idea of completeness and fulfillment that is total and profound.

Philippians 4:6-7 captures this: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Here’s what our 3 verses – Isaiah 26:3, John 14:27, Philippians 4:7 – show about this peace:
  1. It is sublime or transcendent – “perfect,” “transcends all understanding”.
  2. You need to trust in God to get it.
  3. God controls it and gives it – He is the one keeping us in perfect peace, leaving peace with us.
  4. Prayer is involved.
  5. Anxiety, worry, trouble will lose their power.
Question: Are there examples from real lives you know where these 5 attributes of peace have been illustrated? Does it ever seem too easy? Are there times when this peace eludes us completely?

The last attribute (#5) is extremely practical and is related to peace as a fruit, a behaviour and attitude, in the life of a Christian. The final image in Philippians 4:7 illustrates this. It is a fantastic irony in the verse: peace is described acting in a warlike or martial way. “To guard” in Greek has a military connotation. Peace is actively guarding our hearts and minds. Peace (of all the fruits!) is on high alert, in uniform, as a sentry, guarding your emotions and your thoughts, your personality, from fear and trouble.

The same peace that exists at the throne of God, the same peace of Christ who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, is active and on duty.


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