I have been talking about the Spiritual gifts that Paul lists in Galatians 5, and we have talked about love and joy so far. In each of these instances, as it is with all of the Spiritual gifts, 2 things are important to remember.
First, a Spiritual gift is not a badge that we should wear as if we have graduated to a superior level of Christianity. Instead it is something that is to be received and utilized with utmost humility, understanding that the gift is not something that we can generate or manufacture ourselves. It is given by the Spirit.
Secondly, Spiritual gifts are not our natural, innate talents and abilities. They are gifts that go beyond what we ourselves are capable of: loving people who have hurt us, finding joy even in suffering, etc.
When we think of the next gift on Paul’s list, peace, we must keep all of this in mind. We hear stories of people who experience the gift of peace all the time, although we often do not give the Spirit the credit for it. We often hear of people who are able to function in high moments of stress, and seem to know what to do when no one else does. Like a fireman saving people from a fire, or a child calling 911 when her mom or dad is having a heart attack, or the doctor who keeps steady hands when a patient is “coding.”
These are all wonderful examples of people who are experiencing the Spiritual gift of peace, although many will say that this “calm just came over them,” and they knew just what to do. And so, picking up on Einstein’s famous quote that “peace is not just the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice,” from a Christian angle would could say that peace is not the absence of anger or nerves or tension; nor is it sweeping conflict under the rug and choosing to ignore it.
Peace is the ability, above and beyond our natural abilities, to stand resolute under the power of God’s Spirit, in addressing the root causes of our conflicts, the root causes of our anxieties and fears, and the root causes of our broken relationships. It is moving forward with the faith and trust that God will provide the necessary words and actions to resolve whatever we are facing.
This week, I hope that your peacefulness comes not from inaction and avoiding conflict and struggle, but rather from a willingness to tackle the tough decisions and moments of our life.
Blessings to you and your family, and may worship be a time of meaningful connection with God.