My calling is to unite all Christians together to form that formidable force against the forces of darkness and I recently attended a revival gathering of all Christians in Lagos. It was awesome and I would like to share a message one of the speakers gave on peace. He called it his life message and an example of how God turns a mess into a message. The message was on peace and started off with an amazing fact. Did you know that there are over 400 verses on peace in the Bible? Below are some of the verses the speaker highlighted.
Philippians 4:7 says “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” He pointed out that where there is no peace, our hearts and minds are vulnerable and it is only God’s peace which can guard and keep them in Jesus.
Galatians 5:22 mentions that the fruit of the Spirit is peace and I have found myself recently seeking this peace during these uncertain times. He mentioned that peace is to be transferred to others just as the other qualities of the Spirit such as love and joy. Upon hearing this, I thought about the sign of peace which is given by those at mass before Communion by extending one’s hand. I sometimes envy couples who actually express deeper signs of affection like a warm embrace during the exchange of peace but that’s a story for another day.
Isaiah 9:6 prophesies the reign of Jesus as the Prince of Peace while Romans 16:20 describes God as the God of peace who “will soon crush satan and place him under your feet.” This reference to a God of Peace who gives us the Prince of Peace to share the Gospel of peace provided a snapshot of the purpose of Christian living.
It was not until he mentioned Romans 14:17 that it dawned on me just how vital peace is in our lives as it consists of one third of the Kingdom of God together with love and righteousness. He explained that it was only recently that he realized that those who had God’s peace had one third of God’s kingdom and that this peace is what brings in healing, grace and other blessings from God.
He cited Matthew 8:23-27 where Jesus calms the storm and explained that Jesus releases the peace within him instead of accepting the storm inside of the disciples. As disciples, we are to exhibit this peace at all times and refill on this peace. He explained that Jesus challenged the storm and spoke destiny into the lives of the fearful disciples in order for peace to overcome the storm. We all have storms which represent the challenges we meet in our lives and while reflecting on this, I wondered how I could get and retain this peace which easily evaporates in the hustle and bustle of Lagos. How do I get to that place of peace? Psalm 23 further refers to peace as the place of God which sustains us through the storm.
He gave the example of the demoniac who had been chained by the villagers but had escaped and was terrorizing the town as seen in Mark 5 and explained that the villagers were wicked people who ended up being frightened of the demoniac when Jesus had healed him. I had never realized that the villagers were cruel but he explained that they were such because they were afraid after they realized that the demoniac was at peace. He explained that satan and his cohorts are terrified when you experience the peace of God because they know that it is one third of the kingdom of God and that God’s peace overcomes whatever hurdle they place before people of God.
Ephesians 6:15 speaks of the armor of God and equipping yourself with the shoes or boots of zeal to propagate the Gospel of peace. This got me thinking – peace is the absence of war and the Gospel of God brings peace. This Gospel has a peace-bringing power which equips us for battle. Indeed, if we are at peace with God then we must be at war with the devil and as such we need to arm ourselves with the studded boots of the Roman soldier to stand firm in God’s peace. The speaker stressed that it did not matter what armor you put on since you would not advance God’s kingdom if you did not wear the boots to propagate the Gospel of peace. In essence, you would be a stagnant soldier of Christ all dressed up in shiny armor but going absolutely nowhere – a lukewarm Christian.
He stressed the transferable nature of peace again when he referred to Jesus’ words in John 14:26-27 of “Peace I leave to you, my peace I give to you.” He explained that peace is a gift of the Holy Spirit and not a creation of ours and that it is an anointing which we receive. He likened peace to a river and warned us about treating it like a pond. This grant of peace as an anointing can also be seen when Jesus sends out His disciples in John 20:21-22 and breathes on them saying “Receive the Holy Spirit.” In this act, Jesus is re-enacting the action wherein Man in Genesis had life breathed into him. In this act, Jesus is restoring the life and peace to Man again.
The search for peace is one that has forced people to go to the ends of the earth from climbing Mount Everest to going on an Australian Walkabout – that search for inner peace. As Christians, we already have the spark of Christ which is ignited whenever we call upon the presence of Jesus. We can experience this peace with the anointing because Jesus does not come alone but brings along with Him, the Father and Holy Spirit. The key to experiencing this peace starts with preparing our hearts and simply inviting God into it.
From the simple tradition of exchanging signs of peace at mass, we see this as an embodiment of what we are to do as Christians which is to transfer God’s peace constantly. The first rebellion led by Lucifer was quashed and from thence, the devil has vowed to destroy our peace but we must transfer this peace which is given to us by the very presence of the Holy Spirit.
Can you imagine if we were to actually transfer this peace each day to those we encounter by saying “Peace be with you” instead of the secular “hello?” How strange that would sound and how many bizarre looks would I get if I started saying that? But why is it that we are so quick to participate in such challenges on social media like the bucket challenge and yet drag our feet if we were told to start something like the peace challenge? I have a friend who says “Peace be unto this place” when she enters somewhere and I often found it strange but thinking about it now – what is so strange about saying such? As Christians we need to break away from the mould and form our own culture. The disciples were known as followers of The Way because they acted a certain way and probably spoke differently using greetings such as this which sounded bizarre to those who did not follow The Way. Yet, they were able to influence those around them by propagating the Gospel of peace.
Can we not take up this challenge? It starts with us Christians. It starts with me: – “Peace be with you.”
Let us take up this challenge and think about the prayer in Colossians 3:15 that “may the peace of Christ overflow in your hearts; for this end you were called to be one body. And be thankful.” In Jesus name, we pray. Amen.