Peace: Not as the World Gives...
Updated: Feb 22, 2022
John 14:27 - 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.
As Jesus told his disciples that He would give them peace, He included this qualifying remark, "Not as the world gives do I give to you." This statement distinguishes a kind of worldly peace as different from the peace that Jesus gives. We will explore this idea more.
It's true that we can only give that which we have. Similarly, the world (kosmos - literally, "something ordered", an "ordered system") can only give a peace that is orderly and systemic. In other words, true peace is not intrinsic in this created order so it has to be applied systematically to the world through order and institutions. It is not to be found innately, naturally, or organically existing. It must be added. Interestingly, the English word cosmetic is derived from the word kosmos and provides us with a helpful way to think about the peace that exists in our world order. Like the makeup of mankind, it is a layer that has been applied upon the face of humanity in an effort to cover up the blemish of our unruly world.
The common world-peace axiom you might have heard is "Peace through strength". Applying the rule of peace upon an unruly world is like bringing two repelling magnets together - with enough force it's doable, but there's a constant tension. Since the nature of peace and the fallen nature of this world is fundamentally incompatible, peace-keeping forces are necessary to bring them together. From militaries, to police departments, courts, and prisons - peace-keeping institutions with the authority to apply force when necessary must be applied to the world systems. Although this type of peace can be, and often is, a force for good in the world, it is still only a shadow of true peace and thus inferior because it only suppresses opposition. It does not resolve it.
The peace that Jesus gives is of an entirely different order and nature. It is not a compelling force acting upon us, but a Divine influence acting within us. We are offered the peace of Christ to inculcate cheerful harmony, not through coercion, manipulation, intimidation, or dominance, but through charity, goodwill, respect, honor, and self-sacrifice. This kind of peace does not merely suppress conflict, it completely resolves it. Unlike polar opposites forced to submit under constant tension, the peace Christ offers is more like the gravitational pull offering the soul a secure foundation on which to stand.
This kind of peace is the foundation upon which the fellowship of God is anchored. When we consider the interpersonal relationships of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit we must conclude that they are relating to one another in perfect and total agreement naturally and intrinsically, without any applied force or pressure. There is no bargaining, coercion, or dominance at work in the peace found within the Trinity. There are no control structures necessary with the Godhead to keep the peace. We should not even imagine that there is ever a vote whereby outcomes are determined by a 2-1 majority. There is no need for any of this because between them there is no opposition in wills. There exists the ultimate cheerful harmony of wills expressed in love, freedom, and mutual submission. It is precisely this quality of peace that describes the idea of a Triune God, the oneness of God found in three distinct persons.
Therefore to experience abiding peace at a personal level, we must exchange the inferior for the superior. Peace comes not from our ability to implement systems that control others, or even ourselves, but out of a Divine connection with Peace Himself. As Jesus spoke of peace He also spoke of the Holy Spirit saying, "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. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you." (John 14:26-27) The wonderful news is that this offer of peace that Jesus gives comes with another offer - that God will give us a piece of Himself, namely the Holy Spirit. It's a packaged deal!
The Holy Spirit is given to us as a Helper. When we surrender to the Holy Spirit we are surrendering to loving-kindness, not legal compulsion. He works with us to conform our will to His through a voluntary agreement, not dominance. He does not force us to submit our will to Him, He invites us to do so with cheerful harmony. As we begin this process we have only a willingness to be willing, but over time, and with our voluntary participation, Holy Spirit begins to resolve our once-unwilling nature with patience, gentleness, freedom, and love.
If you are struggling to experience abiding peace, then take courage because God is wanting you to know Him more. The first step to experiencing more of the peace of God is to acknowledge and abandon our own efforts to control. Then we must offer our willingness to God and allow Him a place of influence in our lives. I encourage you to ask the Lord and pray a prayer similar to this one, “Lord, thank you for giving me peace. I'm willing to be made willing and I invite you to help me know You and follow You more." The Holy Spirit loves to help us. All we have to do is ask.