Sometimes my dreams feel too real. When I wake up, I need a couple of minutes to reset and realize it was all a dream. My son is the same, except for him, these dreams are nightmares. I’m not a dream expert, but as my wife and I have comforted our son in the aftermath of nightmares, I’ve learned a valuable lesson about knowing God’s peace.

Peace from the Word

The peace of Christ rules in a heart where the word of Christ lives. David gives us wise counsel in Psalm 119:11. He says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” He prepares himself for the worst days by storing up God’s word. He doesn’t stock his doomsday bunker with beans and canned tomatoes but with God’s promises. By his word, God gives David peace.

My wife put together a phrase for our son to repeat whenever he has a nightmare. It goes, “God is good, God loves me, God cares for me. When I am afraid, I will trust in God.” She wrote it on sticky notes and stuck it all around the house. Now, when he goes to sleep, wakes up, brushes his teeth when he leaves for school, and comes home, he sees this phrase. The repeated rhythm calms him down, but more than that, the content reminds him of the truth. When the nightmares come, this reminds him that God is bigger than his fears and he can trust the Lord when he is afraid (Ps 56:3). God’s truth, rooted deep in his heart, gives him peace. 

To know the peace of Christ, his word must live in us. Paul says in Colossians 3:15-16. “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” The peace of Christ rules in their hearts because his word dwells deeply in them. His word is their anchor. Without it, they would get tossed and wrecked. Paul exhorts them to store up the word of Christ so they can hold together even in a severe storm.

Peace from Knowing Christ

As the moment of his crucifixion drew closer, Jesus made sure he comforted his disciples. He tells them, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful (Jn 14:27).” Even as the darkness creeps closer they need not fear. This reality- an untroubled heart- comes from their abiding in Christ. “Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me (Jn 15:4-5).” As they abide in him, they remain in his peace. Though life comes with trauma, suffering, and danger, in Christ, they have peace.

Neglecting to cultivate our relationship, and neglecting to abide in Christ, will cost us peace. Engaging his word is key to sustaining our relationship with God. Jesus said, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world” (Jn 16:33). They remain in him as they recall, and remember Jesus’s word. We won’t trust a God we don’t know, and we won’t know God when we uproot ourselves from his word. Cut off from his word, we never wake from our nightmares. His word speaks to our fears like a father turning on the lights, putting an arm around us, and giving us a cup of water to calm us down. He reminds us that when we are afraid, he is good, loves us, and cares for us, and we can trust him. Our hearts will rest in his peace because he plants his word deep in us.

To know Christ’s peace, we must know our Bibles. We can and should do this individually. But look back at Colossians 3:15-16 and see Paul exhort them to do this together in the local church. The Word of Christ dwells in them as they teach one another, admonish one another, sing with one another and give thanks together. With our local church, the word is planted deeply in us as we listen to sermons, sing worship songs, partake in communion, and pray corporately. Christ’s word fills us deeply and flows freely, so his peace builds a home in us. Christ’s peace rules in our hearts when we are fed his word by his body. 

Read his word. Speak his word to one another. Know his peace.

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