Study Guide: Peace

Sunday December 22, 2013 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

When people think of peace, they often think of the absence of conflict. But God’s peace is much more holistic and reaches far into our souls and not just our actions. This shalom of God is about restoring our unity with the Father. In the third sermon of our advent series, we look forward to peace.

Extended Summary:

When people think of peace, they often think of the absence of conflict. We think that if we can stop the military conflicts around the world or the conflicts in our homes we will somehow find peace. But God’s peace is a much different idea. Instead of the absence of conflict, which probably won’t come until the end of time, God provides us with the ability to have peace in any situation, even ones that have conflict.

In the Bible, God’s peace is called shalom. It is a holistic peace that pervades our entire life no matter the circumstances. It is a fullness where everything is integrated and harmonious. And God wants us to live out this shalom in order to advance the Kingdom.

Every hostile thought, word or action that we think contributes to the kingdom of darkness. Every time we contribute to negative thoughts, we bring a little more of the kingdom of darkness into this world. Every time we act on those thoughts, we don’t live out the Shalom of God. Yet, each time we resist those thought, words and action and instead think and act like Jesus, we bring more of the Kingdom of God into this world. This is why Paul tells us to captivate all our thoughts for Christ and to clothe ourselves with love which binds together everything in perfect harmony.

However, bringing about shalom in our lives doesn’t start with our actions towards others, creation or even ourselves. It begins with us finding shalom with God. This is the fundamental problem with all of creation. It started in the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve disrupted the unity they shared with God. Because they lacked that shalom relationship with God, disunity and violence began to invade creation. It didn’t take long before the next generation began killing one another, and even doing more to the aggressors than what was done to them. This problem continues to this day, and if we don’t regain that unity and shalom with God, then there will be no peace in our lives.

We regain this shalom through Jesus. He came to restore us to God, and we gain shalom by submitting to Christ’s peace. This requires us to first see the vision of this shalom. Jesus came to this earth to bind things together, not tear them apart. For generations, this world had been tearing itself apart, and it continues to this day. Never have these tearing actions led to unity. We think killing that next foe or yelling at our family will solve our problems, but they don’t. When we submit to Jesus, we should give up our need to sow violence and instead sow peace in our lives.

In order to do this, we must find complete disgust in all forms of violence. Jesus shows us this. We must be so disgusted with the kingdom of darkness that we would rather die than promote its agenda. And the distinctive mark of a follower of Jesus is that we refrain from violence. Instead of choosing the ways of the kingdom of darkness to resolve the disunity of this world, we instead choose the Shalom of God to bring about the Kingdom of God.

God’s love falls like rain. So, too, our lives should be filled with our love falling like rain. This means that we don’t choose who it falls on. The rain falls on the saints and the sinners. We can’t choose who we want to love based on how much they love us. That’s the way of this world. We should choose the way of the Kingdom of God by restoring shalom with God and then reflecting that shalom in this world.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What additional questions and comments did you have about the sermon and supporting texts?
  2. Are you disgusted with the violence in this world? What things in this world are you passionate about bringing peace to?
  3. In what areas of your life do you desire more peace?
  4. In what ways have you tried to achieve peace in those areas? How did that work out?
  5. What’s difficult about finding our Shalom through Jesus? What would it look like in our lives to live in that Shalom?