Preaching and Worship Resources about Peace
Peace describes a life — and indeed an entire creation — that experiences the full flourishing God intended in the beginning. Vastly more than the absence of war, peace in Scripture involves myriad behaviors that seek not just to head off conflict but actively to build up all other people and creatures in ways that lead to flourishing. Peace is shalom, and shalom encapsulates God's original design for his creation in which everyone's goal is helping everyone else to lead a life of abundance and joy. Living in such rich and zestful ways surely entails an absence of war, but the kind of peace the Bible talks about is so much more than that — it is a picture of pure joy as everyone engages in mutually edifying relationships of life-affirming delight.
The Lord bless you and keep you "The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the Israelites: You shall say to them, `The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.' So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them" (Num. 6:22-27).
"Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky. The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps" (Ps. 85:10-13).
"For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isa. 9:6).
"The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder's den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (Isa.11:6-9).
"Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field. The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places" (Isa. 32:16-18).
"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).
Peace be with you "When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, `Peace be with you.' After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, `Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you'" (John 20:19-21).
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 15:13).
Jesus is our peace "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near" (Eph. 2:13-17).
Points to Ponder
Grace and Peace: Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would have among his titles that of "Prince of Peace." Once Jesus arrived on this earth as that Messiah, he made it clear that what he would leave behind in the wake of his saving work was peace — peace with God, peace among all peoples, peace as a font of joy and the assurance that in God's kingdom, all is well (cf. John 13 and so many similar passages). In the epistles of Paul and other apostles, it is hardly a surprise that salutations and benedictions yoke together "grace and peace" as the finest blessing a person could experience in Christ. Through Jesus' grace we are saved into the kingdom of God, and as citizens of that kingdom we experience a deep-down peace. This shalom, this sense that we and all things are being made right with God, is so deeply implanted in us by the Spirit that it endures even when our outward circumstances are troubling. When pastors use "grace and peace" to bless people today, they are extending the calm and assurance — the life-giving joy — of the kingdom of God into the lives of people. Those people then exit worship as ambassadors of peace to a world that desperately needs not just the cessation of warfare but the deeper sense that in Christ there is a path to flourishing.
Fighting for Shalom: One of the odder utterances Jesus ever made came when he said in Matthew 10:34, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword." That's not what you'd expect the Prince of Peace to say! But in the context of that chapter — as well as within the wider context of Jesus' ministry — the meaning is that for the gospel to make inroads in a world as badly fallen as this one, peace will come only when all that is wrong is defeated and when the spiritual enemies of restoring God's original creation shalom are routed. Shalom will finally be restored by God's grace in Christ, but no one should think that it will come quickly, easily, or without resistance.
From Neal Plantinga: "The webbing together of God, humans, and all creatures in justice, fulfillment, and delight is what the Hebrew prophets call shalom. We call it peace, but it means far more than mere peace of mind or cease-fire between enemies. In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight — a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be."
In Kassem, a language spoken in the African nation of Burkina Faso, having peace is expressed as “having a cold inner being.” There is an expression in Kassem that says, “If the sun is hot, the speech is hot.” This means that if it is hot out, people get angry more quickly and they are less patient. To have a cold inner being means that one is calm and feels peace. Having a cold inner being even when it’s hot outside means that one has inner peace, even when the circumstances of life are difficult. This is the kind of peace that Jesus wants to give us: a peace that does not rely on our outward circumstances.
|Many of the translation insights shown on this site are courtesy of the TIPs Bible.|
|Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.|