“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.” ?—Colossians 3:15
Once we are reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, we have peace with God, but allowing the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts is something quite different. It is from the deepest core of our being, regardless of what is going on in our lives, that we can truly enjoy the peace of Christ.
Paul does not talk about the peace of God being present in our hearts, but to rule in our hearts; that is to take charge and to deliberately submit everything to that rule of peace. Though our outer world may be in turmoil, Christ then becomes our pillar of strength. We have the assurance that God is in control, and because we are recipients of God’s grace, we will experience the peace of God as our source of stability. It is not a logical peace derived from human capability, but is supernatural, derived from God.
The peace of God is very different from tranquility, which is beautifully illustrated in a painting competition held in England. The theme was “peace” and there were two prize winners. One painting was of the Lake District in northwest England and was an inspiring view of a tranquil lake in the foreground, blue sky with puffs of white clouds and a magnificent mountain range reflected in the calm lake water. It was warm and inviting and made you want to go there. It was called “Peace” and won second prize.
Another painting was of a violent storm in the southwest of England where the Cornish Peninsula juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. Tumultuous waves were crashing against the rocks, dark clouds hovering over, lightning knifing the sky and heavy winds and rains pounding a rugged cliff side. Two thirds of the way up this cliff was a gull sitting in its nest, perched in a cleft of the rock, its eyes closed, oblivious to the storm. The artist called his painting “Peace” and it won first prize.
Paul tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). The peace of God is not the peace of the tranquil Lake District. That does not transcend understanding. Neither is it the absence of conflict, but is something we experience in the midst of conflict. We know we have claimed God’s promise when we cease to be anxious about anything, because we know it is Christ in control and Christ who is totally sufficient in any storm.