Living in the Spirit #4
At a Potluck Dinner, a mother took her three young children through the food line. As she juggled all the plates and drinks, she told the kids to be on their best behavior. When they were finally seated, she let out a sigh of relief and told the kids they were doing great. She was proud of them because that hadn’t had any catastrophes yet.
When her 3-year-old daughter heard that, she popped up, looked around and said, “Where are they, Mommy? I’ll go get some.” (1)
We all know what catastrophes are don’t we? We’ve all had days or weeks or months filled with one catastrophe after another. A peaceful day suddenly goes from together to apart. Some days you open the menu of life and the only thing on the men is Chaos and Disorder.
We all know what Chaos and Disorder are. We know a lot about Chaos and Disorder but what we don’t know a lot about is Peace. Especially the Peace Paul is talking about.
Let’s look at those two passages. Galatians 5:22-25 (NRSV)
 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,
 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.
 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
Colossians 3:14-15 (NRSV)
 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.
Let’s read the quote we’ve been reading concerning the Fruit of the Spirit.
“Love is the key. Joy is love singing.
Peace is love resting. Patience is love enduring.
Kindness is love’s touch. Generosity is love’s character.
Faithfulness is love’s habit. Gentleness is love’s self-forgetfulness.
Self-control is love holding the reins.” (2)
I don’t disagree with the idea that “Peace is love resting.” But I might add that “Peace is not just love resting but also, Peace is resting in Love.” The love I’m talking about is God’s love and the joy which comes from knowing God’s unconditional love and the joy of living and loving unconditionally.
But what is this Peace Paul was talking about?
I. WORLD PEACE:
A. I’m pretty sure Paul wasn’t talking about the same kind of Peace which the Miss America or Miss Universe contestants always seem to tack on as a codicil to their desires for the world. “I’d like to become filthy rich and marry a famous actor or rock star. I’d like to teach the world to play Rachmaninov on kazoo and oh, yeah and I’d like World Peace.”
The peace described there and the peace which the world generally thinks of when they think of Peace is dependent upon us. And history has proven that we’re not always that dependable. Just look at what’s going on in the Middle East right now. I’m not sure the Middle East will ever find peace.
One zoo keeper I heard about apparently had ushered in the new age. He kept a lion and a lamb in the same cage. People came from miles around to see the incredible site of the lion and lamb together. Finally, someone asked him how he did it. “Oh, I just put in a fresh lamb every morning.”
Sometimes it seems like that’s all we’re doing when we’re trying to keep peace or bring peace. Think of all the treaties that have been signed throughout history. Then think about all the treaties that have been broken. That’s what happens when we think peace depends on us.
B. The Greek word used here in Paul’s letter had two usages. First of all, it dealt with the whole idea of the physical and mental peace of a village or community and the individual who was in charge of keeping the peace. The keeper of the public peace, was sort of like the Old West idea of a Sheriff or Marshall and today’s understanding of the police officer whose primary duty is to help us ‘keep the peace’ when we get unruly.
A lot of people are only seeking this kind of peace. They want financial or social peace. But what they are really looking for is not peace but safety. Not peace but security.
A lot of people are only seeking outward signs of peace. They are only interested in an outward appearance. They’re not really seeking the Biblical model or Biblical Ideal of Peace.
A. This second understanding of Peace, this second usage is the one I really want to look at because it’s related to the Hebrew word, Shalom. Shalom is more than physical peace. Shalom is wholeness, oneness, it is peace of body, mind, soul and spirit. It is wholeness on every level. (3)
In John 14:27 Jesus told the Disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
This is the Peace Paul talks about in Philippians 4:6-7 (NRSV) when he wrote: “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
This is the Peace which fill our hearts with the Grace of God in Christ. This is the peace which allows us to affirm what Jesus told the Disciples in John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
B. I heard Charles Stanley say one time that “Grace and peace are twin sisters, grace being the firstborn. Where grace abounds, peace thrives. Where grace is stunted, peace shrivels.” (4)
Peace comes from “the Holy Spirit bearing witness to our Spirit that we are the children of God,” children who are forgiven and loved. Children who are heirs with Christ, brothers and sisters with Jesus, the Son of God, which makes us Sons and Daughters of God, joint heirs with Christ.
Yet, we don’t claim this haughtily but we humbly accept what Christ has proclaimed about us and claimed for us. Wesley called this the Grace of Assurance. The deep knowledge that our sins ARE Forgiven, without a doubt, without a worry, without strings attached. You are forgiven and your sins have been buried as far as the east is from the west.
We are “justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.” We claim that because Jesus told us to claim it. We say it because Jesus said it about us first. The Grace of Assurance, is part and parcel of “the peace that passes all understanding [that] keeps our hearts and minds in Christ.”
This Peace, this Shalom can only be born in us through the Love and Joy of God’s Holy Spirit which lives and reigns in us. This Peace, this Shalom is one of the fruits of the Spirit. And yet when it is present, it makes all the difference in the world.
B. Sometimes this Peace is all around us, we’ve just never noticed it before because we’ve tried to fill our lives with so many other things. Our discontentment blinds us from seeing the Peace already around us. WATCH
Once upon a time, in a small country far far away, In a small town in that small country far far away lived a small man and his small family. His small family consisted of his wife, two children and his elderly parents. The problem this small man and his small family had in that small town in their small country was they all lived together in a very small house.
The small man had a big, big heart . . . but the noise and crowded condition of his small house just wore him down. In desperation, the small man went to see the village wise man to ask for advice.
“Do you have a rooster?” asked the wise man.
“Yes, I have a rooster,” replied that small man.
“Keep the rooster in the small house with your small family,” the wise man instructed, Then come see me next week.”
So, the small man brought the rooster into his small house with his small family
The next week he returned to the wise man. “The noise and crowding is worse than before,” he complained.
“Do you have a cow?” asked the wise man.
“Yes,” said the small man.
“Keep your cow in the small house with your small family,” the wise man instructed, Then come see me next week.”
So, the small man brought his cow into his small house with his small family. He returned to the wise man, once again.
“The noise and crowding is even worse than before,” he complained.
All the wise man said was, “Do you have a goat?”
And thus it went week after week after week until eventually the man added a goat, three dogs, a cat and a frog to his small house.
Some say it was the frog . . . but finally, the small man from the small town in a small country far far away could stand it no longer. Over taken by a fit of anger, the small man kicked out everything but his small family and his elderly parents.
The small house, in the small town in the small country far far away became spacious and quiet. The small man realized the house wasn’t small at all. It was just right. His heart was at peace because he was content.
They all lived happily ever after; especially after the small man made the small addition of a second bathroom.
His contentment brought peace. So, did the second bathroom but peace had been there all along. You see, Peace born of faith quiets us. Faith fills us with a Peace that makes us willing to do without what we once prized, if that’s God’s Will. This Peace, this Shalom makes the heart content. This Peace, this Shalom, this wholeness of heart, mind, soul and spirit isn’t dependent on financial security, friends, position or wealth. This Peace, this Shalom is what made John Wesley able to write and pray the Covenant Prayer which can be found on page 607 of the UM Hymnal.
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, will, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for the,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.
This Peace, this Shalom born through the Love and Joy of God’s Holy Spirit, makes all the difference in the world. It makes all the difference in our lives.
Once there was a small jazz club in New Orleans. In a corner of that club sat an old dilapidated piano. All of the jazz artists complained about this antiquated instrument. The piano players dreaded playing on it. The vocalists dreaded singing with it. And all of the combos that played the club wished that they could bring in their own piano– just like they could a saxophone or a trumpet.
Finally, after years of listening to these jazz musicians complain about his piano, the owner of the club decided to do something about it. He had the piano painted.
There are so many people in the world who are seeking Peace, Inner Peace in their lives and don’t even really know it. They’ve worked hard for all that they have and yet now it doesn’t bring the Joy or Happiness they once thought it would. They worked to reach a certain level of position in the company but now that they’ve achieved it, it’s not as rewarding as they thought. Stuff and more stuff, position and power have all left them empty and maybe even emptier than when they started.
Their lives have become like that piano. All they have is a new coat of paint. Their lives are still battered, out of tune and in need of repair.
The answer, the only thing which can bring Peace to the troubled soul. The only thing which can fill that emptiness is Christ Jesus. Jesus gave His very life on the Cross so we could know with certainty that our Sins have been Forgiven. And when we invite Jesus into our lives as Lord and Savior, it’s no simple paint job.
The Son of God rebuilds the entire piano of our lives. He tunes and re-tunes every string of our hearts and souls until their perfect. Sometimes that means we are stretched beyond where we are comfortable but in the end, we will avoid the catastrophe, the chaos and disorder of being separated from God.
Instead we become new creations filled with Peace; Peace which is Love resting in Christ. And that’s the challenge, to yield all things to God for God’s pleasure and disposal. It’s hard but it brings Peace.
This is the Word of the Lord for this day.
1. Valerie Kulhavy, Casper, WY. Today’s Christian Woman, “Heart to Heart.” – adapted
3. Willaim Barclay, The Daily Study Bible, The Wesminster Press, Philadelphia, 1976. Electronic Version.
4. Charles F. Stanley in A Touch of His Peace. Christianity Today, Vol. 39, no. 2.