The Bare Soul - May 3, 2009
The Fruit of the Spirit - Peace

Galatians 5:22-23 - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Aristotle ironically stated ... we make war that we may live in peace. I will take it a step further and say that without conflict there cannot be true lasting peace. Just as light must have darkness to juxtapose both dark and light qualities, respectively, so too must peace have conflict to reveal its true character. In the greatest conflict and victory in the annals of human history, Jesus Christ became our peace by destroying the enmity between God and us, namely sin (Ephesians 2:14-15). He made war on transgressions by becoming sin for humankind's sake when He was nailed to the cross, and then by dying to sin once and for all. Once raised into newness of life, he reigned victorious over sin establishing eternal peace for us all to dwell in. God is not a respecter of persons -- this is His gift to all humankind. As Paul states in Philippians 4:7 through the Holy Spirit: And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. The only prerequisite to share in this peace is to be "in Christ Jesus". Without His indwelling presence, there is no true peace (Isaiah 48:22).

Paul shows us a sometimes overlooked characteristic of peace in this passage, namely that it "surpasses all comprehension". If Christ's peace is beyond comprehension, then it certainly would be impossible to adequately describe. However, while we may not grasp the fullness of God's peace, we can understand it through the character of Jesus and the early disciples. Furthermore, the truest examples we have of peace in the scripture are in the midst of intense conflict. As aforementioned, the greatest example of peace portrayed was in the passion of our Lord's scourging and crucifixion. Throughout this horrendous and barbarous affair, the Lord Jesus displayed perfect peace in the face of a demonically-inspired attack, both physically and spiritually. From His nature flowed peace and assuredness that His Heavenly Father would not forsake Him, but would accomplish through Him all that He intended regarding humankind's redemption. Isaiah 53:7 states that the Suffering Servant, Jesus the Messiah did not open His mouth but like a sheep being led away to the slaughter, He humbly gave Himself up for our sins. As the devil directed all his hate and discord toward the Lord Jesus, the Son of God demonstrated the fruit of peace as He humbly submitted Himself to God. (It is important to remember that Jesus never submitted Himself to man's wishes and desires, but only to God's. He knew that perfect submission to His Father meant that man had no power over him.)

The early church offers many examples regarding conflict and the subsequent out-flowing of peace. Peter knew and understood the shalom of God as he waited in prison to be brought forth before Herod. From the scripture in Act 12, it is clear to see that Peter had submitted himself to God in the midst of this conflict. Verse 6 states that the apostle was so much at peace that he was actually sleeping between his guards! This passage tells us that Peter is miraculously rescued from the clutches of Herod that night by an angel who leads him out of the prison. Peter of the book of Acts is a different person than that of the gospels. This man was once an unpredictable, impetuous and sanguine character that would often speak inadvertently at just the wrong times and would then act with foolish zeal as with attacking the high priest's servant. After Pentecost, we see a man that is sure of himself because he is sure of the One who leads and guides his life. Peter had become a living testimony of the Person of Jesus Christ and the embodiment of peace within. Paul and Silas were a couple of others incarcerated for the testimony of Jesus. Did they fret when those in Philippi committed them to the inner prison? No, they sang spiritual songs and hymns, testifying of the Lord's goodness and faithfulness (Acts 16:25). They understood that their submission was not to the Philippian jailer or to the Roman officials, but that their lives were submitted to Him who was peace in the midst of their conflict. As with Peter, God miraculously delivered Paul and Silas as they bore the righteous fruit of peace in the midst of a dire situation fraught with danger.

A more recent and notable example of peace that passes all comprehension is the story of Horatio Spafford. Wikipedia gives us a summary of how this bereaved man wrote one of the most endearing hymns out of tragic loss and conflict of soul:

This hymn [It is Well With My Soul] was written after several traumatic events in Spafford’s life. The first was the death of his only son in 1871, shortly followed by the great Chicago Fire which ruined him financially (he had been a successful lawyer). Then in 1873, he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the S.S. Ville Du Havre, but sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business. While crossing the Atlantic, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with another ship, and all four of Spafford's daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, "Saved alone." Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died.

Horatio Spafford is just another example of someone that went through a tumultuous conflict of supreme loss yet yielded the fruit of peace as a gift back to the Lord Jesus. Just as Peter, Paul and Silas experienced their respective "Calvary's" complete with repeated conflicts and humiliations, so did they also experience their subsequent "Pentecost's" overflowing with the power to live in a peace that confounded their attackers. While the fruit of peace may be something that is beyond comprehension or description, it is notably understood and marveled upon once it is yielded up from broken vessels such as these examples. The peace which comes from this type of brokenness and conflict of soul is eternal and will stand the test of time. It is the very peace that He Himself became for us as He entrusted Himself to the One who was His shalom -- the Perfect Peace from above.

Our Lord and Savior, thank you that you are our Peace. Thank you for the ultimate conflict that you endured.  By enduring the cross, you won the victory for us. And with that victory, we are living in the peace of your Holy Spirit for all time and eternity. We rejoice in it and give you all the glory as you confound the wise of this world with a peace that defies comprehension. In Jesus' Name, Amen!

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

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