FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT – Peace (part 1)

The reason we’re doing this series on the Fruit of the Spirit is because it’s such an important list of Christian characteristics, yet it doesn’t seem to get the airtime it deserves. Part of the reason for that is because some of the characteristics on this list just don’t seem particularly exciting: patience? self-control?

Except for when you get to today’s fruit! Today we’re looking at Peace, which is something everyone, everywhere, wants. This is particularly true right now, in our heightened state of worry and fear amidst the Coronavirus.

However, while it’s encouraging that people desire this particular fruit, I think part of that desire is based on a misconception about peace. In most people’s minds today, peace is a sort of tranquil existence that comes with the absence of conflict.

A few days ago we saw how love was not defined by the absence of hurt, and yesterday Justin did a great job of describing how joy not being defined by the absence of sorrow. It’s the same with peace!

I think this is something important for us to understand about all these fruit: they do not exist in a continuum. In other words it’s not like there’s a balance scale, where if sorrow goes up, for example, then joy must come down. If hurt goes up then love comes down. Or if conflict goes up then peace comes down. Peace, love, joy and all the other fruit exist despite their negative partners, not in absence of them.

So, when we pursue the fruit of peace, it does not mean we’re pursuing a life of no challenges, no suffering, no refining of faith, no getting out of our comfort zones, no conviction of the Spirit. That’s not the Christian life at all!

You can see this in the word used for peace, which is ‘Eirene’, the technical meaning of which is ‘inner quietness and rest despite circumstances’. Remember the power of this metaphor: peace is a Fruit of the Spirit internally, not the product of circumstances externally.

Which means its source is way down deep, not swirling around us when there’s a temporary vacuum of conflict.

What’s interesting is that the word is formed from a root verb which literally means ‘to join together, or ‘restore something that has been broken’. This is the same with its Old Testament Hebrew partner, ‘Shalom’, which means ‘wholeness or a state of well-being in relationship to something’.

The primary relationship that has been restored, that brings peace, is our relationship with God. Romans 5:1 says:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”.

At the risk of perhaps creating some confusion I have to say that peace with God IS the peace that comes about as the absence of hostility! We see this in Colossians 1:

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death…

Colossians 1:19-22

It’s true that there was hostility between us and God! We were ‘hostile in mind’ towards Him, and that incurred His judgment and wrath against us. But Jesus absorbed that for us (as we saw on Sunday), and now we are at peace. But even then, it’s more than just the absence of conflict, it’s a new state of wholeness, or completeness, that comes as a result being ‘reconciled to God’.

It is this new wholeness, this new ‘complete’ state, that then leads us to experience a deep sense of peace, despite the crazy circumstances around us.

Activities for kids

Pool Noodle Boats / Or Lego or Paper Boats

Read the story of Jesus calming the sea (Mark 4:35-41). Make pool noodle boats (or Lego or paper boats, otherwise play with toy boats) to reinforce the story. Talk about how we don’t need to be afraid of anything, and can have real peace, because God is in control and he loves us.        

Paint a ‘Peace Stone

Paint or decorate a stone, or simply write the word ‘peace’ on it. When you feel afraid, worried, or unsettled, hold on to the stone to remind you of God’s love for you, that through Jesus you have peace with God, and pray for the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, to guard your hearts in Jesus (Phil 4:7).