Intimacy with God

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:7)

  1. Meet the Castle Guard – Peace. What an irony! Here is “peace” serving as a guard, a sentry, a soldier! Most people in the process of hiring a security guard to protect their home would not hire “Mr. Peace.” Peace is too gentle and tame, too docile and non-violent for such a job. Who would hire a pacifist as a guard? Some would hire a worldly, shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later type person. The castle guard that God offers us is peace! What a contradiction.

In order to take your house, any intruder must first dispose of your guard. Here is the logic: when peace is threatened, the clear indication is that you are under attack. When your peace is rattled, you are in some level of spiritual warfare or siege by the Evil One who has some malevolent purpose. When peace goes, so does joy. In such times, we may lose our emotional equilibrium and poise, and act in less than gentle and gracious ways. We are absorbed by the problem. Our witness is diminished.

  1. Meet the Aggressor – Worry. The subtext of the passage is that of trouble. When worry assaults our minds and hearts, not only is our peace disturbed, our sense of God’s nearness is also affected. The sound of our joy is silenced. We may panic, become short-tempered, sensitive and reactionary. We disqualify our witness. We may feel that God is no longer guarding us. How do we prevent this loss of joy and grace? How do we stop the violation of protective peace? We can’t exempt ourselves from problems. After all, life happens! But there is a place beyond the reach of the Evil One.

Joy, grace and peace are companions God offers the believer. Of these, peace is the more militant, much more so than joy or grace. It serves as the sentry, like an armed soldier guarding our hearts and minds. A troubled mind is an indication that ‘peace’ is under attack. Some problem has effectively penetrated our defenses. Some worry is about to take our hearts captive. The loss of peace threatens joy and grace. When peace goes, quickly bar the doors of your heart. Cry out to God. Be vigilant.

  1. Meet the Militant Protector – the Peace of God. It is a paradox that “peace” should be the guard, the militant one. But the Bible says, peace “shall mount guard.”[1] What irony. The peace of God protects, like an armed watchman, vigilant and aware. The word guard carries the idea of a posted soldier.[2] Inner peace is a gift from God. “My peace, I give to you” (John 14:27). However, once given, you must conscientiously monitor your peace level. This peace came at the moment of conversion. The guilt of sin rolled away. The cares of the world were severed. Our enmity with God ended. Reconciliation took place. We were no longer at war with God, others or ourselves, due to sin.

Through the Christ of the cross, we have peace with God. And peace with God invites the peace of God. And the power behind that peace is “the God of peace” Himself. “The God of peace will be with you.” Wow! “The Lord,” we were told in verse five “will be with you.” And where He is – peace and safety can be found. Moses exhorted the people, “Don’t be afraid! Stand still, and see what the LORD will do to save you today” (Exodus 14:13, GWT).

  1. Meet the Gateway to Security – the Rest of God. The Eastern Church and their more modern writer-counterparts, such as Henri Nouwen, emphasize the importance of “coming to rest” in prayer. Nouwen says, “Hesychia, the rest which flows from unceasing prayer, needs to be sought at all costs, even when the flesh is itchy, the world alluring, and the demons noisy.”[3] Perseverance is the price necessary to return to a state of peace, even if that place is the eye of the storm itself. Peace, inner rest, is the goal. This is not external peace. It is not mere coexistence with a problem. This is not avoidance, but violent faith in the face of any impending danger or challenge to our confidence in God. It is the ability to live in the storm, without letting the storm inside of you.

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P. Douglas Small is founder and president of Alive Ministries: PROJECT PRAY and he serves in conjunction with a number of other organizations. He is also the creator of the Praying Church Movement and the Prayer Trainer’s Network. However, all views expressed are his own and not the official position of any organization.

[1] Kenneth Samuel Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1953), 110.

[2] M. R. Vincent, Vincent’s Word Studies on the New Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1985), 891.

[3] Quoted by Peter Greig and David Roberts, Red Moon Rising – How 24-7 Prayer is Awakening a Generation (Eastbourne, England: Relevant Books, Kingsway Publications; 2003), 68.