"Peace be with you" is a phrase often used by believers to bid farewell. I, too, often use this phrase, and I believe that it is not just an empty cliché. The phrase expresses my blessing and intercession for a person, and the feeling of being one in the Lord gives me spiritual joy. Many times I am tempted to say "peace" as I bid farewell to my non-believing friends, but I swallow it back, thinking that they might not understand its implication. I hope that one day they, too, can draw near to the Lord and experience the true meaning of peace.
What Is the Peace of Christ? To most people, peace means having good health, financial stability, and success in their career. However, life has twists and turns—you may encounter an accident; suffer physical or mental distress; or lose your job, a loved one, your property, or health—and therefore you may lose the "peace" in your heart and your sense of security.
The Lord Jesus once told His disciples, "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). Genuine peace comes directly from the Lord; it is not found in the world and cannot be attained by human effort. Many people spend their lives building their castle of wealth, status, power, and health. Unfortunately, they are unaware that this castle is so fragile that it cannot withstand a single blow.
God tells us that He will give us peace, but also that as long as we’re in this world we will experience tribulation. Most people think that there is a conflict between peace and tribulation, that one cannot have peace when one suffers bankruptcy, illness, or the loss of a job. But in the sight of God, tribulation and peace can co-exist without contradicting each other. God had promised us His peace, but He did not guarantee a smooth course of life.
How then, do we experience true peace from God? We need to receive from Him the spiritual insight to transcend our physical circumstances and to see the great blessing of eternal life to come. Both the splendors and the tragedies of life on this earth are but clouds that quickly pass, not worth putting to heart.
While Paul and Silas were locked up in jail, they sang hymns praising God (Acts 16:25). The peace of Christ sustained them, because they understood that suffering with Christ was a joy and a blessing (1 Pet 4:12-14). Trials and persecution can only harm the body, not the soul. With almighty and compassionate God by our side, what can happen to us? Compared to our heavenly inheritance, our present tribulations are light and momentary (2 Cor 4:17).
How to Attain the Peace of Christ? God has promised us that all our needs will be provided for if we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Mt 6:33). "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things" (Mt 6:32-33). By understanding the divine love of God, we can put aside our worries and experience the peace of Christ.
The Lord Jesus tells us that whoever believes and is baptized will be saved (Mk 16:16). If we believe in the true God and receive the baptisms of water and the Holy Spirit, we can enjoy the peace of Christ and our future eternal inheritance in heaven. The Lord gave Himself up on the cross for our salvation, and by His precious blood, He cleanses us of our sin. He redeems us from the domain of this world and fills us with His grace. God does not do this because of our righteousness or effort, but because of His love. We must be thankful because even though we are not worthy of His grace, we have been called to the peace of Christ (Col 3:15).
Through faith we can receive unlimited peace and blessings from God. Some people desire power, some desire wealth; yet power and wealth are limited and short-lived. How can they measure up to God's providence, which lasts from this life until eternity? King David knew best in applying this faith: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want… You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over" (Ps 23:1, 5).
How to Let the Peace of Christ Rule in Our Hearts? Some people have plaques in their homes or churches saying, "Christ is the master of this house." Christ is the head of the church, but we must also allow Him to be the master of our hearts. He must be the master, not the servant or guest. By using His word as our guide in decision-making and our standard in daily demeanor, we can allow the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts.
We can learn from the Israelites’ attitude of complete reliance on the Lord as they wandered in the wilderness. No one went his own way or walked ahead of the pillars of fire and cloud. We may find it difficult to rely on God completely if we do not fully believe that He has His good will in all things. However, this attitude will not glorify God, and it will also prevent us from obtaining true peace.
By studying the Bible, we can grow in the knowledge of God's mightiness, righteousness, and love—blessings that we can experience and obtain. David said, "O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup" (Ps 16:5). God is my inheritance, your inheritance, and the inheritance of all believers. By understanding David's joy, we can then understand that "all things work together for good to those who love God" (Rom 8:28). Whether we encounter tribulation, sickness, misfortune, or prosperity, our prayer should be, "May the Lord’s will be done." Such a prayer allows the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts.
Anxieties come from the loss of support. If Christ is our everlasting reliance, we can be assured that His peace and joy will abide with us forever. If we let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, we can be one with the Lord, in whom we live out the image of a new man and whose example we follow in all things (Eph 4:17-24). Eventually, we can proclaim with a clear conscience as Paul did, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil 1:21). If we can learn to adopt the mind of Christ, we will receive the peace of Christ in abundance, along with the future blessing of eternal life.