I was born in 1950, so I was 17 in the “Summer of Love,” as 1967 came to be called. When I went to University I grew my hair and said “Peace, man!” to people, and I spent my 20’s generally identifying with hippie culture and coveting the lifestyle, even though (thankfully!) I was far too fearful to fully embrace it. Peace deals are brokered in the Middle East and across the world, political systems strive to bring a degree of peace to the lives of their communities, and harassed parents and carers crave just “five minutes peace” where they can spend a few moments recovering from the turmoil of their daily lives; but neither the world nor the flesh can find peace, because the old man “grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.” World peace remains a cliché, an impossible dream forever eroded by the power of sin and death, because the world and the flesh do not enter into God’s rest.
We, however, are no longer of this world. The Kingdom we belong to is ruled by the Prince of Peace Himself, who promises us the very peace that the world can’t give: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” (John 14:27) If we read the Bible, we will know the words. But what some of us need is for this promise of Kingdom peace to move from the area of theory and mental assent, where they can evaporate so easily into the same misty dream that is shared by the world’s and the flesh’s version, into the place where they are the solid ground under our feet that we walk on day by day; Kingdom minute by Kingdom minute.
Hebrews 13: 20-21 might help:
“Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
The resurrection of Christ is ascribed individually to all three members of the Godhead (For a summary of these scriptures, see https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_1350.cfm), therefore the God of Peace who raised Jesus from the dead is the whole of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. At the cross, the power of sin and death was destroyed forever, and three days later the God of Peace became a living breathing reality on the face of the earth for the first time since it was created. The angels announced “Peace on Earth,” Calvary made it possible, the Resurrection delivered it, and Pentecost made it our own. Peace permeates the being of God and flows into all that He touches: as oxygen is to the Earth, God’s peace is an element of the very atmosphere of His Kingdom, and we breathe it with every step that we take when we walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh.
Paul emphasises the pre-eminence of peace as a characteristic of the Godhead in both his letters to the Thessalonians. In 1 Thess 5:23 he writes:” Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” And in 2 Thess 3:16 he writes “Now may the Lord of Peace Himself give you peace always in every way.” To walk in the peace of God is not just about being free of anxiety and fear: God’s peace is the agent of our sanctification, the balm that prepares the bride of Christ for her wedding day. This is made clear in Philippians 4:7 – words that most of us probably know by heart: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” and again in Col 3 15: “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.”
I think these scriptures make one thing clear: the peace of God isn’t a bonus, the icing on the cake of our salvation; it is in every crumb of the cake. Jesus Christ brought salvation to the world so that the peace that pervades Heaven can be made manifest on Earth. The peace of God is a reality of the spiritual dimension that can only be accessed by “the new man, which was created according to God in all righteousness and holiness.” (Eph 4:24) If we aren’t walking in God’s peace, we aren’t walking in the Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Peace. When the peace of God isn’t ruling in our lives, Jesus isn’t ruling either. It’s our hearts and minds that the peace of God “guards in Christ Jesus.” Our spirits are seated with Him in heavenly places, but unless the peace of God is ruling in our hearts we aren’t bringing anything to Earth from where they are seated. Peace is the litmus of our spiritual walk.
I will close with one more point, which I will return to in another article. If you feel like the atmosphere of Heaven only exists in a room that you are locked out of, the psalmist has given us a key that will open the door. Psalm 119:165 tells us “Great peace have those who love Your law, And nothing causes them to stumble.” And just as we know the promise of peace, we also know the requirement of the New Commandment, which is to love one another. “To love, then, is to obey the whole law,” writes Paul. (Romans 13:10) If we want to have “great peace” we need to keep God’s law and show someone His love. The converse also applies: if we don’t have the peace of God it could be that there is someone to whom we are failing to show His love…
The enemy took “Love and Peace” and made it a slogan of the hippy movement. It’s time we took it back for the Kingdom of God.