Sermon illustrations


Finding Peace

So you ask, “Where is peace to be found?” This question is answered clearly and powerfully in Isaiah 26: You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. (vv. 3–4) This passage tells us where peace is to be found. It is never found in trying to figure out the secret will of God. It’s not to be found in personal planning or attempts to control the circumstances and people in your life.

Peace is found in trusting the person who controls all the things that you don’t understand and who knows no mystery because he has planned it all. How do you experience this remarkable peace—the kind of peace that doesn’t fade away when disappointments come, when people are difficult, or when circumstances are hard? You experience it by keeping your mind stayed on the Lord.

The more you meditate on his glory, his power, his wisdom, his grace, his faithfulness, his righteousness, his patience, his zeal to redeem, and his commitment to his eternal promises to you, the more you can deal with mystery in your life. Why? Because you know the One behind the mystery is gloriously good, worthy not only of your trust but also the worship of your heart. It really is true that peace in times of trouble is not found in figuring out your life, but in worship of the One who has everything figured out already.

Taken from New Morning Mercies  by Paul David Tripp, © 2014. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.


How We Become Peacemakers

To become peacemakers, then, we must begin with ourselves. We must ask ourselves, “Why do I make cutting remarks to another person? Why do I make demeaning remarks about them?” We must also ask ourselves, “What causes my resentment toward that person?” or “Why do I continue to nurse hurts by that person instead of forgiving them? What is it that causes me to be envious or jealous of that person?” In order to even ask those questions, we have to admit that we have those attitudes. But because we know they are sinful, we tend to live in denial that we have them.

Jerry Bridges, The Blessing of Humility, The Navigators.

Jesus’ Brand of Peacemaking

Jesus’ brand of peacemaking is extensive. It embraces the breadth of humanity. But peacemaking is also intensive. The commands to love and pursue peace challenge us not only to resolve conflict but also to build accord, to humbly seek to rebuild trust and to make love deposits (or relational investments). To pursue peace is to work for in-depth harmony in the relationship.

Taken from Peace Catalysts: Resolving Conflict in Our Families, Organizations, and Communities by Rick Love Copyright (c) 2014 p.55 by Rick Love. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

A One-Verse Peacemaking Manual

If I had to choose only one verse in the entire Bible to summarize what Jesus expects of peacemakers, it would be Romans 12:18. It’s concise and comprehensive—perfect for peacemaking dummies like me: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Notice how realistic Paul was about waging peace. The condition “if it is possible” acknowledges that it is not always possible to make peace.

Scripture is realistic about conflict and discord. Biblical peacemaking is neither sentimental nor naive. It addresses the harsh realities of brokenness and evil. (Check out the entire passage—Romans 12:17-21—to understand the full context of this important verse.) Even our most sincere efforts may fail. Peacemakers aren’t always peace achievers. This verse also affirms proactive peacemaking: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you . . .”

Since making peace involves at least two parties, reconciliation isn’t always possible. But the responsibility for taking steps toward peace always rests on us as individuals. We can’t ignore it, and we can’t wait for the other party to come to us. We are repeatedly commanded to take the initiative in pursuing peace ourselves.

Taken from Peace Catalysts: Resolving Conflict in Our Families, Organizations, and Communities by Rick Love Copyright (c) 2014 p.15 by Rick Love. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

The Passing of the Peace

In the Anglican liturgy the passing of the peace comes after confession and absolution, on the heels of our reminder that we are forgiven. This too is no coincidence. Our forgiveness and reconciliation flow from Christ’s forgiveness of us.

Out of gratitude over the enormous debt our king has forgiven, we forgive our debtors. Receiving God’s gift of reconciliation enables us to give and receive reconciliation with those around us. In the end, God is the peacemaker. It is not simply “peace” that we pass to each other.

It is the peace of Christ, the peace of our peacemaker. Christ’s peace is never a cheap peace. It is never a peace that skims the surface or papers over the wrong that’s been done. It is not a peace that plays nicey-nice, denies hurt, or avoids conflict. It is never a peace that is insincere or ignores injustice. It’s a peace that is honest and hard-won, that speaks truth and seeks justice, that costs something, and that takes time. It is a peace that offers reconciliation.

Taken from Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren. Copyright (c) 2016 by Tish Harrison Warren, p.175. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Peace Like a River

What do you suppose would happen if we paid attention to God’s commands? We don’t have to wonder, because He told us clearly: “If only you had paid attention to my commands, / your peace would have been like a river, / your righteousness like the waves of the sea” (Isa. 48:18). Consider the following applications as you imagine peace like a river.

1. A river is a moving stream of water. God’s Word does not say we’ll have peace like a pond. If we were honest, we might admit to thinking of peaceful people as boring. We might think, I’d rather forego peace and have an exciting life! When was the last time you saw white-water rapids? Few bodies of water are more exciting than rivers! We can have active, exciting lives without suffering through a life of turmoil. To have peace like a river is to have security and tranquility while meeting many bumps and unexpected turns on life’s journey. Peace is submission to a trustworthy Authority, not resignation from activity.

2. A river is a body of fresh water fed by springs or tributary streams. To experience peace, we must be feeding our relationship with God. I’ve found that I can’t retain peace in the present by relying on a relationship from the past. As a river is continually renewed with the moving waters of springs and streams, so our peace comes from an active, ongoing, obedient relationship with the Prince of Peace. This and other Bible studies are examples of ways God desires to feed a peaceful river in your soul.

3. A river begins and ends with a body of water. Every river has an upland source and an ultimate outlet or mouth. Rivers depend on and are always connected to other bodies of water. Likewise, peace like a river flows from a continuous connection with the upland Source, Jesus Christ, which is a timely reminder that this life will ultimately spill out into a glorious eternal life. The present life is not our destination, hallelujah! We who know Christ move over rocks and sometimes cliffs, through narrow places and wide valleys to a heavenly destination. Until then, abiding in Christ (John 15:4, KJV) is the key to staying deliberately connected with our upland Source.

    Take pleasure in knowing that God inspired His Word with great care and immaculate precision. He chose every word purposely. When He said we could have peace like a river in Isaiah 48:18, He wasn’t drawing a loose analogy. He meant it. What does it take to have this peace? Attention to God’s commands (by obedience) through the power of the Holy Spirit. Obedience to God’s authority not only brings peace like a river but righteousness like the waves of the sea. Not righteous perfection. Righteous consistency.

    Beth Moore, Breaking Free: Discover the Victory of Total Surrender, B&H Books, 2007.

    Peacemaking Begins With Us

    Recently we found ourselves around a table with a team of faith leaders from an influential Midwestern church. Their restlessness was palpable. “Peace has been one of our core values for years,” they said, “but our community is saturated with conflict. It’s pervasive! Will you help us?” When we asked them to describe the implications of their dilemma, they spoke of a conflict-saturated staff culture, the inability to experience healthy disagreement among leaders and volunteers, the uptick of marriages and families within the church dissolving, and an inability to collaborate with other local churches to address local issues. 

    The leaders went on to express their sense of helplessness as they watched issues of racism and injustice surge in their neighborhoods and armed conflicts accelerate around the world…At last, they disclosed just how far their church was from the reality of peace: “We’re experts at identifying, discussing, and gossiping about conflict, but ultimately, we choose to either ignore it, run away from it, or engage it violently.” As we dug in with this team, we asked them to consider how they were contributing to the conflicts in the church.

    It was a risky question to ask a bunch of leaders who had spent more time diagnosing the problem then examining their own motives, intentions, and behavior…By meal’s end, they had begun the hard work of acknowledging how their pride and pursuit of power had created a culture of conflict in the congregation. They realized that if they wanted to become an embodiment of peace in their city, they first needed to confront their own pride, repent of it, and begin moving through rather than around the conflicts that existed within the family.

    Jon Huckins & Jer Swigart, Mending the Divides: Creative Love in a Conflicted World, InterVarsity Press.

    Peace Keeping vs. Peacemaking

    Peacekeepers are conflict avoiders, sweeping important issues under the carpet so no conflict manifests itself. This often happens in families and churches. This also happens between alienated ethnic groups and countries. Peacekeepers separate two parties in order to prevent conflict and thereby keep the peace. Temporary separation for the sake of de-escalation is a valid step in the process of peacemaking during a war and in a radically broken marriage or relationship.

    When tensions or emotions run high, we need outside help to keep us from explosive reactions. Peacekeeping is peace faking. It is a forced peace; it is a false peace. And God does not like false peace. “They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14 NASB; see also Jeremiah 8:11; Ezekiel 13:10). True peace is not just the absence of conflict but the presence of harmony.

    And so peacemakers sometimes need to be peace disturbers. They need to shake things up, expose hidden heart issues or confront barriers to harmony. The Prince of Peace certainly disturbed the peace of the Pharisees more than once. Jesus relentlessly challenged them about their attitudes of superiority and judgment—two mindsets that divide rather than unite people.

    Moreover, Jesus said they did not have the love of God in their hearts (John 5:42). He knew that the motivating power of God’s love was lacking in the Pharisees and would undermine harmony in relationships. Martin Luther King Jr. had to do a lot of peace disturbing in the peacemaking effort we call the civil rights movement. King boldly and lovingly addressed the hypocrisy, prejudice and injustices perpetrated by the white establishment against African Americans. But he wasn’t just trying to overthrow white supremacy. He sought reconciliation between these two groups. Before there could be peace, the status quo had to be disturbed.

    Taken from Peace Catalysts: Resolving Conflict in Our Families, Organizations, and Communities by Rick Love Copyright (c) 2014 p.42 by Rick Love. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

    Peace Takes Time

    In this short excerpt, noted Christian ethicist Stanley Hauerwas describes the integral link between peace and time:

    Peace takes time. Put even more strongly, peace creates time by its steadfast refusal to force the other to submit in the name of order. Peace is not a static state but an activity which requires constant attention and care. An activity by its very nature takes place over time.

    In fact, activity creates time, as we know how to characterize duration only by noting that we did this first, and then this second, and so on, until we’ve either gotten somewhere or accomplished this or that task. So peace is the process through which we make time our own rather than be determined by “events over which, it is alleged, we have no control.”

    Taken from Christian Existence Today: Essays on Church, World, and Living In Between, Brazos, pp.253-66.

    Scars Tell Beautiful Stories

    In their excellent book, Mending the Divides, Jon Huckins and Jer Swigart describe a Japanese Pottery tradition that articulates the power of peace and reconciliation:

    When we speak of peace, we can call to mind the ancient Japanese pottery tradition called Kintsugi. With this technique, a clay vessel is broken and then put back together, but not in its original form.

    Instead the restoration process involves the use of pure gold to mend the divides and heal the fissures. The broken vessel is put back together in such a way that it is stronger and more beautiful than before it was broken. In Kintsugi, the scars tell beautiful stories of healing and restoration rather than painful stories of destruction.

    Jon Huckins & Jer Swigart, Mending the Divides: Creative Love in a Conflicted World, InterVarsity Press.

    Shalom Defined

    The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight is what the Hebrew prophets call shalom. We call it peace, but it means far more than mere peace of mind or a cease-fire between enemies. In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight. . . . Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be.

    Cornelius Plantinga Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin, Eerdmans.

    Shalom & Shalvah

    Shalom, “peace,” is one of the richest words in the Bible. You can no more define it by looking in the dictionary than you can define a person by his or her social security number. It gathers all aspects of wholeness that result from God’s will being completed in us. It is the work of God that, when complete, releases streams of living water in us and pulsates with eternal life. Every time Jesus healed, forgave or called someone, we have a demonstration of shalom.

    And Shalvah, “prosperity.” It has nothing to do with insurance policies or large bank accounts or stockpiles of weapons. The root meaning of leisure-the relaxed stance of one who knows that everything is all right because God is over us, with us and over us and for us in Jesus Christ. It is the security of being at home in a history that has a cross at its center. It is the leisure of the person who knows that every moment of our existence is at the disposal of God, lived under the mercy of God.

    Taken from A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society by Eugene Peterson Copyright (c) 1980, 2000 by Eugene Peterson. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

    Thanking God for Places of Peace

    Think back over your life and try to remember a place where you felt safe and at peace, a time when you felt relaxed and okay. It could be an outdoor place—like on a beach or sitting in a tree. Maybe it’s an indoor place like a quiet reading chair or a kitchen table.

    Close your eyes and remember this place as completely as you can. Imagine yourself being there, noticing the sights, sounds, feels, smells, tastes. Notice what it feels like in your body to be there. Spend a minute enjoying this place using your imagination. Notice what it feels like to be safe and at peace. Then take some time to thank God for this place, no matter how small or normal it might seem.

    Taken from Does God Really Like Me?: Discovering the God Who Wants to Be With Us  by Cyd and Geoff Holsclaw Copyright (c) 2020 by Cyd and Geoff Holsclaw. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

    See also Illustrations on ReconciliationRighteousnessSelf-Control, TeamworkUnity

    Still Looking for inspiration?

    Consider checking out our quotes page on Peace. Don’t forget, sometimes a great quote is an illustration in itself!

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