Welcome to "Peeled: A Study of the Fruit of the Spirit"
- “Joy is to peace as the sunshine and bright colors are to the calm light and sweet air of a summer day.” - Hastings
But what is this peace? Can it be measured or is it simply an abstract feeling inside the person that no one can really see, hidden deep within the confines of the soul? Aside from joy, what are the causes of peace? These questions, and many more which time will not permit to be discussed in this article, are the crux of this week's study on the single word, "peace." (Be warned, this one will be longer!)
What Is Peace?
Peace, as used in our main text for this study (Galatians 5:22-23), is somewhat difficult to define given just a lexicon and a word. The original word means something to the effect of "quietness," "prosperity," "rest" or simply "one". Easy enough, right? Just given these definitions one could adequately determine the context of Galatians 5:22. However, there is much more to the definition of the word that the Creator of the Universe decided to employ when He inspired the hand of Paul to write this verse. The word is used in other verses speaking to the tranquility provided by a government official in office (Acts 24:2), to the reconciliation sought by Moses when addressing the two arguing Hebrews in the land of Egypt (Acts 7:26) and even to the rest within the churches of Judea, Galilee and Samaria after the conversion of Saul who, while once
Can Peace be Measured?
Yes and no. It would be difficult, if not impossible for a person such as myself to speak to the observable nature of an abstract thing such as a feeling (I'll leave that to the neuroscientists or whatever they are called). However, peace can be measured simply by looking at the aforementioned verses. The result of this mental state (peace) can be seen in a group of people divided much like that of today's political realm of the United States. While thoughts and beliefs are as polarized as anything in today's politics, imagine as it everything were perfectly fine and everyone worked together for the good of the people, the state and the human race. - That would be the peace discussed (although somewhat sarcastically or out of flattery) in Acts 24:2. Imagine two brethren fighting over some meaningless issue or object and the state at which that relationship is after a mediator arrives to settle the disagreement (cf. Acts 7:26). That is a observable instance of peace. Finally, imagine you were part of an organization which was being put to death simply for existing without harming anyone other than their consciences in convicting them of wrong and, if but for a short time, that persecution subsided due to the conversion of the main perpetrator to your views (cf. Acts 9:31). If nothing else speaks to the measurement of peace, the account of Acts 8-9 does just that when considering the Christians in the area. So, yes peace can be measured but as to whether or not that measurement can come from both the effects and the biological, I can only speak to the effects.
What Causes Peace?
Peace is caused by three things, primarily.
- The Coming of Christ - The apostle Paul wrote one of the best writings concerning the church to the Ephesian brethren sometime around A.D. 62. In that inspired correspondence, Paul explained the fact that at one point there were two categories of people; Gentiles and Jews. In that separation, those who were called Gentiles were "without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world (Ephesians 2:11-12)." However, that wall of separation was not to be eternal for in the coming of Jesus Christ it was broken so that those "in Christ (Ephesians 2:13-14)" were no longer divided by enmity but part of a singular entity, the church (Ephesians 2:15-16). If one were to look back at some of the mindsets of the Jews regarding the Gentiles, he would see a tremendous amount of angst in the relationship, if it could even be called such. But in the body of Christ, the true church of Christ, there is no more division! We all work together for the good of the cause of Christ and the salvation of not only our souls but the souls of those who are in need of hearing and obeying the Gospel of Christ.
- The Obedience to the Gospel of Christ - That brings us to the second major cause of peace within a person today - obedience to the Gospel. If all there was in the church was peace between different types of people it would be wonderful, but there would still be something missing! The enmity placed between the eternal deity, God, and His creation through the fall of man from a righteous state in his eyes to the state of being classified as a "sinner" (c. James 5:19-20) at whatever point that individual reached the age at which he is accountable for his sins, would still need to be addressed. But how would this be possible? There is only one way, Christ. Being "justified," that is to say "rendered just/innocent" by the blood of Jesus we have been able to access that peace between us and our Father. The caveat to that is the fact that the individual seeking that peace must follow the God given process to become justified, wherein is peace. That can only happen through one's obedience to the Gospel (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:7-9) which is done through baptism into Christ in submission to Him and reenactment of His passion experience (Galatians 3:27, Romans 6:3-4, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Then and only then will the person have not only the brotherly peace between his fellow man but the eternal peace between his Creator and himself.
- The Fulfillment of "the Life" as a Follower of Christ - However, if one were to stop there he would not realize that both of these peaces must be nurtured less they fall back into enmity (2 Peter 3:14). The child of God still has the capabilities to sin and therefore create anew the alienation that he once experienced from his brethren and his God. Therefore, he must live the life of a Christian and stay faithful to both his family, the church, and his Father. While establishing that peace is difficult at times, some see trouble in repenting of their past lives and still others find it hard for their brethren to trust them again (Acts 9:26-27), it is this cause of peace that takes the most effort on the part of the individual because the Christian life has built within it certain commands that must be followed somewhat ritualistically, in that they must be done step by step, and other commands that will take the complete denial of one's self for the Christ.
All this being said, peace is worth it! Even though it takes effort and even though it can only be measured by the outward effects of the inward emotion and even though it is difficult to define, it's perfect because our Lord established it and gave us a way by which to access it!