You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ…. (Acts 10:36 NIV, emphasis mine)
The modern reader could read this as a typical statement by a godly man. But the Apostle Peter was amazed. He was speaking to a group of Gentles in the home of a gentile named Cornelius—and all his life he had believed Gentiles were unclean.
To arrange the meeting, God gave a Gentile named Cornelius a dream so he’d dare ask Peter to visit him. And God gave Peter a trance so he’d be willing to go. Even the timing had to be right to confirm the message of the trance. Because, before the event, Peter hadn’t considered associating with someone he had labeled as “unclean.”
Then, when Peter arrived at Cornelius’ home, he found a crowd of more Gentiles waiting to hear what he had to say. His inner landscape was forever changed that day. He acknowledged his discovery when he said God accepts men from every nation who fear him….(v. 35).
When we think or talk about peace, we often think of political peace or freedom from oppression. And that’s the type of peace the people of Jesus’ time expected Him to bring during His earthly ministry.
It didn’t happen. Instead, Jesus offered internal peace that didn’t depend on circumstances, so Peter also focused on peace that comes from an inner response—from knowing and living with God.
Peter and all the disciples continued to emphasize internal peace. The salutations of Paul’s epistles even began with, Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Peace is right up there with grace.
The disciples made peace a priority because life without it is harrowing. And because many things hinder peace. And because people would have trouble understanding God’s peace.
Inner peace doesn’t come through a victory—not even a victory over an adversary or victory over sin. Those things bring joy and a measure of satisfaction, but they don’t bring peace.
Peace comes through rest. Resting in God because He’s in control—regardless of whether or not we’re feeling victorious. And we can trust Him. When we come to this place of resting in Him—trusting Him—we let Him do whatever He wants in the circumstance. He might help achieve a victory. Or He might not.
And here’s a secret I’ve learned. When I come to God because I need peace, my only job is remaining honest. I’ve learned I can’t try to manipulate Him by proclaiming peace that isn’t my reality.
He knows. Oh, how He knows.
So this week I confessed my reality along with my desire to walk in His peace. And then I waited.
And He came. He always comes. Because He’s God, the God of grace and love.