If we are not experiencing some level of the realities of the kingdom of God in our life, our religion is pretentious, yes we have faith for salvation, but the reality of Gods life and His kingdom remain but lifeless text on a page. For example if we read,
“… peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds…”
and do not have the experience to substantiate the experience of these words they are meaningless, or empty in terms of the existence of the peace that will guard our hearts. We recognize that there are several aspects of peace that we need to acknowledge where one is physical, the other mental, and finally of the heart. Our circumstances can be without conflict, our minds can be at rest however it is the peace of heart that is the activity of Gods kingdom in us. Physical and mental peace are possible through the acts of men but peace of heart is the act of heaven and its manifestation in us.
The reality of the peace that passes understanding comes from Gods kingdom and finds entrance into our spirit, i.e. it is given from above and we receive. Not only do we need to see the kingdom of God, but we need to enter it. It is through entrance, that we can experience and understand this kingdom we have inherited through Christ.
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid…”
Jesus gave us His peace, recognizing that it is His peace and His peace is a remedy to a troubled heart and any other inner adverse condition. When I think of peace I’m reminded of Jesus asleep in the boat with His disciples during a storm. I don’t know about you, but if I were in a small boat in rough waters I would not be asleep. No, I would be as the disciples were, afraid for my life. However, I believe Jesus lived in kingdom peace, to the degree that He could sleep during the storm, or had been at peace no matter what circumstance He was facing, where the rule of kingdom peace had been the condition of His spirit and inner life. I don’t believe you would have ever seen Jesus nervous, anxious, or fearful. I remember a meeting I had just left, and in this meeting God had been with us in a unique manner where I found a lot of this kingdom peace in my spirit. It was late, dark, and while walking back to my car next to a chain linked fence, unbeknownst to me, there stood a big dog on the other side of that fence, and as I walked by, the dog let out a loud bark that normally would have scared me so bad that I would have jumped out of my skin, but without even the slightest response of emotion or fear, I simply continued to walk to my car as if it were the sound of a leaf falling to the ground. Recognizing the peace that I left with in that meeting, I wanted more.
Let us understand what it means to have the peace that passes all understanding, and as previously mentioned, is a peace from above, an attribute of the kingdom of God, and is something that the atmosphere of heaven is comprised of, and is not something external or circumstantial in this world, or is it manufactured by human effort. No, peace that I’m speaking of is, in the midst of conflict and adversity you still have peace, because it is within, resides in the inner man, coming from above. In addition, this kingdom peace is not something that one can understand in terms of your theological, or biblical knowledge you possess, it passes by the understanding and is something one experiences and knows. Either you have it or you don’t, either it is resident in your spirit, or it is not. If I have eaten an apple, and you have not, and I write a book that thoroughly explains my personal experience with an apple, explaining how it taste, its textures, and any personal enjoyment I might have experienced from eating one does not mean you have had the same epicurean experience. However, what I can do is explain to you where the apple can be found, the trees that it grows on, explaining how I found it, where on the tree one must climb to pick the best one.
When you have peace, you know it, and recognize that it is a kingdom item that resides in your spirit via the Holy Spirit and permeates the soul, and something that we can rest in, i.e. it is the soul and spirits heavenly quieting agent, and when we possess it we only want more, and when it is gone we are miserable until it returns; i.e. all the typical unrest of soul and spirit are back, adversely influencing how we feel, what we say, and do.
Paul explained in his letter to the Roman Christians that the kingdom of God is not meat or drink but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Notice where Paul says that peace is, in the Holy Spirit who is the administrator of this kingdom peace Jesus left to us. If we are a Christian we have the Holy Spirit, but having the Holy Spirit does not necessarily mean we have peace. If Christians were honest with themselves they would confess that they no little or nothing about kingdom peace, and have certainly miss represented it, and miss interpreted it as to its nature. Or possibly, you are a Christian that knew something of peace, but it has been many years since you have experienced it, it is like a lost friend who left and has not return to you.
Peace is not a condition of our salvation, we can be saved, and not know anything about peace, except what we have read on a page. Yes, the Holy Spirit is in us, however, we might not have met the qualifications that peace might be released in us and remains. Peace comes as we walk in accordance with Gods Will, it is His Will that positions us, and aligns us with His kingdom, where peace resides.
Our Inner Condition
Most of the time we have an inner condition that is not at peace, meaning it is passive, or nebulous, cold, or indifferent, or in some cases can be disruptive, or even inordinately disturbed, causing us internal emotional pain and difficulty due to many factors, including renegade thoughts, tormenting emotions, bazaar imaginations, just to mention a few. Our inward condition of heart, mind, emotion, and spirit can be filled with these renegade thoughts, nervous energy, conflicting emotions, frustrations, stress, irritableness, anxiousness, depression, and impatience etc., where from one, or all of these we act out when put in circumstances that are not so “peaceful”. All of which take their toll upon our daily lives having many repercussions upon both our physical and emotional lives. You cannot control this inner man, nor discipline it, because it will break out somewhere; when the cup is bumped what is really in there will come spilling out. Paul mentions our remedy for such things that I just mentioned and that is,
“…and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”
Kingdom peace should be a distinguishing mark or characteristic in a Christian’s life and in most cases this is not true. Truly, it takes the light of heaven to shine upon this inner man, to see our inner condition as God sees it, recognizing that it is not at peace. A lot of behavior, both external and internal is acceptable to the average Christian because they do not have light and an ensuing sensitive conscience. When we finally do see our inner condition in the light of heaven, it will motivate us to seek change. The change that we need is not more self-discipline, or some kind of metaphysical control of this inner condition, but it is change that comes only in terms of recognizing that it’s Gods kingdom, and its entrance into our inner sanctuary works change.
Two examples of our Inner Condition
There are many consequences of an inner life where the kingdom and its attributes are obviously absent. Our inner condition is manifested when we put it in its daily context. For example, out on the road, what our driving habits reveal about our true inner condition are telling. Are we easily irritated and continuously impatient with those on the road around us that drive too slow and cut in front of us? Do we get up on the bumper of those who are driving the speed limit? Are we cursing those who don’t drive as we would? If the answer to any of these questions is yes your inner condition is not one of peace.
Another example I can speak of, is inescapably an inward condition that all of us experience, and most of the time, we have little control over, where the assistance of peace is nowhere to be found, nor the rest it brings to the inner condition that drives most of us to over eat. How many of us are overweight to the point that it’s unhealthy and we find that we have little control over those emotions that can only find a stress relief in eating? Even as I sit here, and write, I find flooding into my mind the idea to go and get some potato chips, which wanting to diet; I do not want to succumb to.
Possessing no inner peace, peace that comes from the kingdom, will show up adversely somewhere in our life, even if we deny we are not at peace, our physical condition is telling, especially is our overweight and should shout volumes regarding what is really going on inside of us, and certainly does not have the marks of the kingdom upon it. How many preachers are so stressed that their weight is out of control. I will not go into all the other conflicting emotions we all experience, such as talking too much, because our emotional life is governed by emotions and not kingdom life.
Let me say it again, yes, we are saved, but God wants us to venture into His kingdom where there is righteousness, peace and joy, the inner conditions that should be the ear mark of every Christian, and if we possessed these kingdom virtues would be the remedy we are all looking for. Gods’ intent, I believe, is not for us to look here and there for our emotional stability but to look to Him and His kingdom for He is in perfect peace. Jesus, in the boat was a prime example of someone whose inner condition was permeated by the peace of the kingdom.
Grace and Peace be multiplied to you
One of the most difficult things about peace is not simply experiencing it one time but the difficulty is in keeping it, walking in it. You cannot know peace if you are living unto yourself, living in sin, or even living some kind of task oriented religious life where each Sunday you attend church, pay your tithe, smile and look good. No, the peace that passes understanding is resident in the Holy Spirit and our abilities to know it are in accordance with knowing and walking spiritually and not carnally,
“For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace”
There are many secular physiological and psychological remedies for all those disturbances that work in each of us where many Christians seek them for relief from an inner condition that has proliferated beyond one’s personal tolerance level, in other words, their inner dispositions becomes too overwhelming. Peter writes in His second letter that grace and peace be multiplied to you where peace is a virtue that none of us can be without. However, as mentioned previously a peaceful inner life is conditional,
“….glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good…” and “…to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace…”
Peter explains in his second letter what the criteria for entrance in our inheritance which is the kingdom and our means to it,
“…for if you do these things (II Peter 1:5 to 7) you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”
And finally let me remind you of Pauls’ warning regarding our inheritance and those who will not inherit the kingdom and its attributes, where it should be noted that Paul is not talking about our salvation, nor heaven and hell, but the missing out of the realities of this kingdom and its impact upon our daily lives, and internal condition,
“For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God”
Unfortunately there are many who will teach you that this kingdom is only known after death, these are people who it can be said are those who neither enter themselves and who keep others from entering, as Jesus explained and admonished the scribes and Pharisees for doing the same,
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in”
One final comment and it is this, if you are someone who finds that your inner condition is such that it is causing you emotional problems, illness, or such things as these, it is because of what you are practicing and giving yourself to is out of sync of Gods Will. Note that there is always hope, forgiveness, and Gods love to redirect our path back into His kingdom where there is peace. Many times we have to make many mistakes in order for a sincere desire for God and His kingdom to begin to germinate in us, so that we will go to Him for His help, and His help is always in Christ, the king of this kingdom, to whom He will always direct us back to, when we have gone astray.