Sermon: The Peace of God (Philippians 4:2–9)
This world is many things, but it is not peaceful. When we turn on the news, we hear of constant wars, constant rumors or war, constant crime, and constant fear. When we go to work, we find ourselves surrounded by conflict, gossip, office politics, drama, and power plays. When we head home, we enter into short tempers, arguments, and long-developing dysfunctions. But even when we can find solitude, we discover to our horror that our own hearts are filled to the brim with anxiety, bitterness, rage, and terror. No matter where we go in this world, we cannot find peace.
What, though, can we realistically expect? Is it plausible to expect peace on this side of the Fall, or is the drumbeat of peace reserved for naive idealists who do not fully understand the depth of the brokenness of this world? As much as we crave peace, do we need to relegate our hope for peace to the future for the coming reign of the Prince of Peace?
In fact, peace is possible. Although Paul has only used the word “peace” once so far in this letter in his standard greeting (“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ…”; Phil. 1:2), he now turns his attention to peace as the fruit and goal of everything that he has taught the Philippians in this letter. Their unity, their joy, and their ability to endure suffering depends on their experience of the peace of God that will surpass all understanding.