Jesus said: “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.”John 14:27
Let’s continue to look at the fruit that we bear when we abide in Jesus. Jesus assures us (in John 15) that he is the vine and we are the branches. And when we stay attached to Jesus, we will naturally bear his fruit. What is that fruit? Paul identifies this fruit in Galatians 5, in a list that calls “the fruit of the Spirit.” They are: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” These are qualities of a spiritual life that naturally occur when we abide in Jesus. I have looked at two of these so far, love and joy. Now let’s look at the third: peace.
When we abide in Jesus, we have peace. Have you ever seen this bumper sticker: “No Jesus, No Peace; Know Jesus, Know peace”? It seems overly simplistic, perhaps, but the greatest truths often are surprisingly simple. When we know Jesus and abide in him, our hearts are at peace. And until we do, our hearts will be restless.
As St. Augustine famously put it, “You have made us for yourself, [O God], and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” We were made by God to be in a relationship with God. It’s why we are Christians. We have responded to God’s invitation to be in a new relationship with him through Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We can get so busy and preoccupied, though, that we forget about this essential relationship. But God knew that would happen. So we have a hard-wired restlessness, a God-shaped vacuum in the soul, that motivates us to find our way back to God. Deep down, even below conscious thought, we somehow know that we can find true peace only in God. This peace is God’s gift to us. It is a fruit of the Spirit. And it is found by abiding in Jesus.
Jesus tells us in John 14 that peace is his gift to us: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives” (John 14:27). This is the “peace that surpasses all understanding,” as Paul describes it in Philippians 4, the peace that “guards our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.” And it is the peace that only Jesus can give.
This peace cannot be bought, in other words, no matter how much money we have. This peace cannot be discovered, no matter how hard we look. This peace cannot be achieved, no matter how hard we try. This peace can only be received. And it comes only from God’s Son, Jesus.
But this also means that once this gift is received, it cannot be lost. Just like joy, and love – the fruit that are listed before peace – these are gifts from God that can always be ours to receive, and can never be lost forever, because they are not ours. God’s peace is not ours to earn, and it is not ours to lose. It is God’s gift to us in Jesus.
No matter what is happening in your life right now, no matter how turbulent your life, or this world, might be, there is a peace that God wants for you to have, that God offers to you through the Holy Spirit. Know Jesus, abide in him, and you will always know His peace. Thanks be to God. Amen.