Our Defining Priority (5)
Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. Romans 14.16-18
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. Isaiah 9.6, 7
An unworldly peace
In the kingdom of darkness, lasting peace is an elusive commodity. In all kinds of situations—homes, workplaces, nations, international forums, schools, therapists’ couches, places of worship—people are seeking peace, that sense of overall wellbeing that drives away worry, dispels doubts, and leaves one feeling safe and secure.
In the kingdom of darkness, just enough of peace can be realized to make the citizens of darkness know that it exists and desire it more and more. But the peace of the world is typically fleeting, easily dissipated, and never fully satisfying.
The world is unable to realize lasting and true peace; “the way of peace they have not known” (Rom. 3.17). All kinds of voices hold out the promise of peace and safety to the world (1 Thess. 5.3); yet fear, uncertainty, anxiety, and despair continue, and new drugs, more spectacular vacations and escapes, more outlandish political promises, and a never-ending flood of new products and gadgets cannot deliver the peace this world desperately seeks.
What the world cannot realize by its most ardent and energetic exertions, Jesus promises to give to all who enter His Kingdom: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16.33).
Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and peace is the condition which arises from righteousness wherever the Kingdom presence is established. Where righteousness abounds, peace obtains. Peace is the normal condition and set of the soul of those who know the Kingdom’s presence in their lives. And only Jesus can give us the peace that overcomes the fears and troubles of the world, so that His Kingdom citizens may “be of good cheer” in all they do, come what may.
A peaceable Kingdom
The Kingdom of God is the Kingdom of peace. The citizens of that Kingdom, devoted to righteousness and increasing in Christlikeness, are not free from troubles, difficulties, disappointments, and hardships. We have our daily struggles, just like the people in the kingdom of darkness.
But, since we have been conveyed into the Kingdom of the Prince of Peace, we know that peace is available to shield, refresh, and comfort us even in our most trying times (Phil. 4.6, 7). Peace is the condition that every believer knows increasingly because Jesus ever lives to grant us His peace, a peace we cannot fully understand but that we may truly know. To know Jesus and His Kingdom presence with us is to live in peace—with God, in ourselves, with our neighbors, and despite all the turmoil of our troubled times. The citizens of the Kingdom of God know true peace, know how precious and comforting it is, and thus seek to increase in it that we may build-up one another in the Lord (Rom. 14.19). The peace we know in the Kingdom of God arises from the hope which accompanies righteousness, the hope of everlasting life, the hope of glory, the hope of living forever in peace with the Prince of Peace, our Savior.
Such peace comes only from Jesus Christ (Eph. 2.14). He is our peace as He renews our soul, binds us back to God, and empowers us to live at peace with one another. So precious is the peace of Kingdom presence that all who know it truly work hard to maintain and preserve it throughout the peaceable Kingdom of the Lord (Eph. 4.3).
Peace is what the yet-unbelieving John Wesley longed for amid a terrible storm at sea, as he observed a group of true believers gathered in prayer and singing before the Lord. Wesley was terrified because all the onboard conditions robbed him of his peace and threatened his life. The lives of those Moravian believers were also in jeopardy, yet they sang and prayed in perfect peace. Only when Wesley’s heart was “strangely warmed” by the true peace that comes from knowing Jesus would he understand what he observed during that storm at sea.
Peace to the world
Peace is the message we proclaim to the world—peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 6.15). The troubled hearts and tormented minds of those still trapped in the Kingdom of darkness can be relieved, renewed, restored, and made to rejoice in the peace that Jesus gives. The citizens of the Kingdom of God, as we increase in the righteousness of the Lord, pursue the peace of Jesus with all the people in our lives (Heb. 12.14), for we understand that “the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (Jms. 3.18).
We pray and work, therefore, that our peace may be multiplied—in us and among all who have entered the Kingdom of God (1 Pet. 1.2). We eagerly seek the peace of Jesus by seeking Jesus Himself, Who is our peace (Eph. 2.14). The more we can say with the psalmist, “I have set the Lord always before me” (Ps. 16.8), the more He will be at work within us, shaping us unto righteousness and filling our souls with peace.
For the peace we have in and from and with Jesus does not come from outward trappings or circumstances. This is how they seek peace who yet dwell in the kingdom of darkness, by acquiring things, or having all their relationships to be just so, or by avoiding troubling conditions or circumstances. But peace does not come from outward things, which are fleeting, deceitful, and elusive. Peace comes from within, where the Prince of Peace, Who rules in peace and unto peace, makes us new people as we gaze upon His beauty and are immersed in His river of delight (Pss. 27.4; 36.8).
Righteousness is the character that comes with a Kingdom presence, and peace is the condition such a presence engenders.
For reflection or discussion
1. When do you experience the peace of Jesus?
2. How is the peace Jesus gives different from the peace people know in the kingdom of darkness?
3. How is peace related to righteousness? How may we pursue peace in every area of our lives?
Next steps – Preparation: Seek the peace of Jesus in prayer. Then prepare to take the peace of Jesus into every area of your Personal Mission Field where the Prince of Peace leads you today.
T. M. Moore
A companion study to this installment is entitled, “We Would See Jesus.” The four installments in that series are available free of charge by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study.