There have been people who have been at the foot of Jesus, and received abundantly the forgiveness of their sins, but not all have the peace that passes understanding. They are devout in their faith but have not found peace. Our peace must deal with other things than simply the first principles of becoming a Christian.
Having the peace Paul about talks means making peace with our past. We may recognize God has dealt with our past when He wiped the slate clean. He no longer holds a charge against us. It is no mystery to find that there are people who have no peace, who do not sleep well because they have not dealt with their past.
For example, someone comes to God and yet there are things that need to be handled in the past. They recognize forgiveness by God but have no peace because they remember their past. There is not only a need to be reconciled to God but also reconciliation with the past. Many struggle and many fail because they never reconcile with their past.
Consider Zacchaeus, while little in stature, he was exceptional in other areas. He said if he, as a tax collector, had wronged anyone he would make it right. If he had defrauded anyone according to the law, he would pay manifold as the law demanded. He was dealing with his past. We may think we can sow our wilds oats then down the road we will turn over a new leaf and just walk away from them all. We may be forgiven but there are still some things that need to be addressed. Inequity needs to be made right, as much as we can. We may not be able to be at peace with the past if ghosts of the past continually accuse us.
Further, it is true we cannot come to the Lord without repentance. It is also true that we cannot have peace with God if we ignore our obligation to others. We will not likely be at peace with ourselves until everything that can be corrected is corrected. Yes, some things may be impossible to correct. For example, the person may no longer be living. The blood a person has shed cannot be set back to life again.
Additionally, sometimes we say, “We cannot come to God until we have dealt with everybody.” Is that true? Where in the Bible do we see one seeking forgiveness from the Lord, but the Lord said, “I’ll do it but first you better go and get things fixed with everyone who needs to be fixed.” It is understandable that in coming to the Lord we will want to do what is right. Part of what is right is tending to our past. The fellow who has stolen may not be able to set right all the things of his dishonesty. But surely in those things in which there is something current and something he can make right he would not fail to repay what he has taken dishonestly. He will sleep better. It will contribute to his peace.
Again, the person who has been malicious may not be able to set it right. The gossip cannot recall every rumor that has been started and cannot heal every wound the rumors have caused. There is a call to do something about that. At least there ought to be an apology to those who have been wronged. How will we ever find the peace that passes understanding while there are the lingering and troubling accusations? We cannot get every one of the inequities back where they ought to be, but we can do some things. When we have done the best we can to set things right, let the past pass. If not, we will never have peace that passes understanding. We cannot find peace and rehash the sinner’s life every day. Somewhere we must let it go.
Finally, the past is just that (2 Cor 5:17). There is a recognition that must see the past where it is. The old things have passed away. We need to be able to put them in perspective where they can pass away. We need to deal with them in such fashion that we can come to peace with them. Old things must be disposed. In the new life with new things to be done, peace is found. We do not find that peace by dragging along our old course of life.
Observe, Paul never forgot the grievous things he had done. I am sure lingering in his mind was that day when he stood with the crowd and held their coats as they stoned Stephen to death. He could not set that right or undo that. But he talks about peace that passes understanding. The one who had been the enemy of Christians and destroyer of churches has turned to an entirely new direction. Old things can be put aside and pass away and not be an every day accusation to challenge peace.
We need to come to peace with our past. Peace really fits with reconciliation. Reconciliation addresses something out of whack, of someone whose relationship is severed. There is a reconciliation with God. There must also be a reconciliation to what belongs to our past.
by Rickie Jenkins