The news is so negative. It has always been that way. However, today it seems like the negativity carries a megaphone and a bat. Despair echoes from every direction. Conflicts boil over in every relationship. We are paralyzed with anxiety and wield our opinions like swords. The devil dances with delight.
It is time for disciples of Jesus to go on the offensive. This is the moment to fight for peace. Now is the hour to rise to the occasion. But beware, our weapons are not physical, but spiritual. The battleground is not outward, but inward. The war is won by overcoming evil with good.
The path to peace does not come from human rulers, medical advances, or powerful organizations. Our peace is greater than any worldly calm. It comes from a transcendent God.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)
How often have I come to those words in search of peace and left frustrated!? I felt my peace should rise each morning with the dew, but it was gone just as quickly.
I discovered that peace does not come from chanting these words like a magic formula. They are not an ointment you rub on a bad day. The peace of God is a promise that depends upon tangible actions on my part. I must engage in the battle for peace, and God will ensure I win.
The strategy for winning the battle for peace is laid out in Philippians 4. Here are a few essential tactics.
Stand Together. A divided army is a defeated army. You see, there were two ladies in Philippi who were arguing, and the church felt the pain. Paul’s advice to them was to, “agree in the Lord” (Phil. 4:2). How can we spread peace, when there is no peace among us?
The blazing passions of our times are setting fires among believers. Now is the time to lay down your opinions and “pursue the things that make for peace” (Rom. 14:19). More than ever your world needs you to be a “blessed peacemaker” (Matt. 5:9).
Hold on To Joy. When days are dark it is hard to see the light of joy. You must fight for it. You must hunt it down. But it is there, in an endless reservoir, when you look in the right place. “Rejoice in the Lord always!” (Phil. 4:4). Find your joy in the Lord, for it does not crumble when the world quakes.
What makes you happy? Your anxieties reveal your true source of joy. When you are anxious about things that are temporary, worldly or selfish; when you agonize over the loss of your pleasures and plans, it is time to lay down your anxieties and “rejoice in the Lord.” Counteract every crushing report of despair with a reason to hope and rejoice in the Lord (this was the practice of the prophets and the psalmists).
Talk with God. I’m not surprised that people are afraid, uncertain, and angry. The problems of this world are too great for us. Even a microscopic virus is too great for us! But we are not alone. Through prayer we can rest in His ensuring wisdom and power. Through prayer we can fill the halls of our hearts with thanksgiving and praise. We need more prayer warriors who will lay down their constant need to be seen, and battle for peace on their knees (Phil. 4:6, 11-13).
Focus Your Thoughts. You are what you think! When our thoughts are dominated by the conspiracies, uncertainties, and violence of our day, we will be walking zombies of despair, or even worse, marching soldiers of ruin.
Guard the gate of your mind like a sentinel. Beat back the hordes of negativity. Only open the eternal real estate of your heart to things that are “true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and praiseworthy” (Phil. 4:8). In this culture, if you passively sit in your chair your mind will be captured by a parade of pessimism. It is time to break the stupor, get out of our chair, and go on the offensive and focus our thoughts on what is godly!
Take Action. The battle for peace has one more piece. Put on your shoes and do something to serve the Lord. Paul wrote, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil. 4:9). The time you spend helping the weak, saving the lost, serving the saved, healing the broken, will fill you with more peace than another hour plugged in to this cynical culture.
Lay down your pillow of escapism. Lay down your passive guzzling of pessimism. And bring the peace of God into a reality in your world.
Paul’s prayer is mine.
“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.” (2 Thess. 3:16)
“Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:14)
Here’s a song to bring peace to your soul. Each couplet begins with a question doubting the possibility of real peace in our day, but the doubts are answered by our truth in Jesus.
Peace, Perfect Peace
Edward Henry Bickersteth
Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.
Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed?
To do the will of Jesus—this is rest.
Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round?
On Jesus’ bosom naught but calm is found.
Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away?
In Jesus’ keeping we are safe, and they.
Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?
Jesus we know, and He is on the throne.