Peace is what most in the world are longing for. Yet peace seems to be elusive. Perhaps people are not only looking in the wrong place to find peace, but also are going about it in the wrong way. Peace is often viewed as a product of compromise. Yet a peace based on compromise is only peaceful as long as all are happy with the compromise! There must be a better way.
Paul wrote about peace as he drew his letter to the Christians in Philippi to a close. There were Christians in Philippi who were not at peace with each other. And there is a way to find peace in all aspects of our lives.
“I ask Euodia and Syntyche to agree in the Lord. And I ask you, my faithful friend, to help these women. They served with me in telling the Good News, together with Clement and others who worked with me, whose names are written in the book of life.” (Philippians 4:2-3 NCV)
Two Christian women, Euodia and Syntyche – it is sad that all we know about them is that they were not at peace with each other. They had worked hard alongside Paul and others, yet they had a disagreement.
That is not an unusual condition. We find Christians in most congregations who do not get along. Yet this is not how it should be. Christians who struggle to show love are not showing Jesus to those around them. What is the solution?
“Be full of joy in the Lord always. I will say again, be full of joy.” (Philippians 4:4)
The idea of being full of joy is one that is also elusive to most Christians. Too often we equate joy with happiness and, while there is an element of being happy and content in the word, there is also a difference. Happiness is more dependent upon our circumstances while joy is not. We can have peace and contentment even when what is happening to us is difficult.
The key is that this is “in the Lord.” Our joy – and our peace – comes from a relationship we have with Jesus the Messiah. Because of all that he has done for us in providing forgiveness and every spiritual blessing, we have joy.
Peace, as elusive to most as joy, is found in a similar way.
“Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:5-7 CEB)
Did you get that? There is no need to worry about anything. Instead, we need to be praying and talking to God, giving him thanks for all that we have. By turning our worries and anxieties over to him we can find a peace which those who are not Christians will not understand. In fact, it exceeds all understanding. This peace will keep our hearts and minds safe in Jesus. This will translate to our lives in being gentle with people. We will be at peace with them.
We need to change the way we think, no longer concentrating on the difficulties around us but centering our thoughts on Jesus and what is good. And not only think about these things, but also doing them.
“From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. Practice these things: whatever you learned, received, heard, or saw in us. The God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)
Readings for next week: Philippians 1-4; Philemon