The Fruit of the Spirit – Living a Spirit-filled life
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” -Galatians 5:22 (NIV)
Day 5: Peace
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.” -John 14:27 (NIV)
Just as with love, there are three ways we are called to be at peace: With God (Romans 5:1), with others (Romans 12:18), and within ourselves (Philippians 4:7). Our peace with God is already accomplished through Christ: “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Some denominations teach a theology called “penal substitutionary atonement”, that Jesus’ death was a sacrifice in our place like that of the sacrificial lamb in the Old Testament. However, there are many descriptors and metaphors in the Bible about how Christ’s death and resurrection brought about peace with God – sacrifice, ransom, redemption, deliverance, etc. – and there have been many different theories of atonement throughout history. I believe that all of these metaphors and theories only give us glimpses of a mystery that is beyond our human understanding. (For more about this, I recommend Recovering the Scandal of the Cross by Joel B. Green and Mark D. Baker.) Nevertheless, we can be confident that through Jesus’ death and resurrection we can have peace with God, in this life and the next.
We are also called to live in peace with others. Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” True peace between two or more people takes hard work on both sides and a willingness to consider one’s own actions and attitude and change when necessary. That’s why Romans 12:18 says, “as far as it depends on you.” If you are willing to do the work, but the other person or people aren’t, you can’t do their part, too. The only thing to do is to wait until they’re ready, and set the boundaries you need to in the meantime.
The third kind of peace is an inner peace. This peace, like joy, does not come from pleasant outer circumstances, but from an inner trust that no matter what the circumstances, God is with us. Brennan Manning calls this a “reckless trust” –
“The way of trust is a movement into obscurity, into the undefined, into ambiguity, not into some predetermined, clearly delineated plan for the future. The next step discloses itself only out of a discernment of God acting in the desert of the present moment. The reality of naked trust is the life of the pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious, and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future. Why? Because God has signaled the movement and offered it his presence and his promise.” (Ruthless Trust, by Brennan Manning)
I love the meme that says, “Relax: Nothing is under control.” Our inner peace does not come from having enough money in savings, having health insurance, life insurance, auto insurance, etc., or from knowing what the future holds and how we are going to cope with it. It comes from trusting that God is in control, and that all we have to do is live in the present moment and then step forward into the next one in faith.
About The Author
Jessica Kantrowitz spent many years in seminary, earning an M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and in various ministries to both Americans and international students. When a health crisis coincided with a faith-shift she left her job in an Evangelical parachurch organization and rediscovered her joy in writing. Her work has been published on Think Christian and The Good Men Project and shared widely throughout social media, in particular her essays, Bake for them two and Things I've been wrong about for most of my life, part one. She lives in Boston where she also works as a nanny and an academic editor. You can find her at her blog, Ten Thousand Places, and on Facebook and Twitter.