Rest in Peace
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” -Ephesians 1:2
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” -Romans 5:1
“Requiescat in pace” is the oft-expressed Latin phrase for the familiar “RIP” used in many a funeral liturgy or in offering a blessing toward one who has just died, as if a human blessing can carry any weight to ensure a destiny of peace for one who has forever crossed the barrier between life and death. I rather imagine the unbeliever in particular is at an awkward loss for words of anything else to say of one who has breathed their last other than “Rest in peace.”
The Apostle Paul addresses almost all of his epistles with the offered blessing of “grace and peace” to his believing readers. These readers are not dead but very much alive. So, there is the desire that the dead will rest in peace, but there is predominantly the hope that the living know peace now.
What exactly is this peace? Grace and peace are very prominently in Paul’s mind as he thinks of his brothers and sisters in Christ. Grace, God’s unmerited favor, is essential to one’s salvation and well-being, a gracious gift from God, but what is this peace of which Paul speaks and this blessing of the bereaved to the dead, “Rest in peace?”
Peace is both a state of mind and an actual place of standing, both physical and spiritual, of any person. Very apparently, every person is either at peace or he/she is not. Our object biblically is peace with God, which is the foundation of all peace, and the avoidance of its opposite: agitation, unrest, dissatisfaction, incompletion, being unsettled with God, and, consequently, all else. Peace speaks to being undisturbed, in smooth waters, complete, satisfied, content, settled, “at home.”
Psalm 23 comes to mind when defining peace. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want,” and on and on through this entire brief Psalm. These words beautifully capture the essence of peace with God. Read and meditate on it once more and repeatedly.
Peace with God begins in this life. In fact, according to the parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus, the instant you leave this life you find yourself either in complete agitation as the rich man or in content peace as Lazarus. One was miserable; Lazarus was at peace.
Paul teaches us that peace with God comes through the Lord Jesus Christ. Apart from seeking peace through Jesus, there simply is no peace for the weary. Jesus said, “Come unto me all you who are weary, and I will give you rest.” Peace is the reward of coming sincerely to Jesus. If you find peace in this life through Him, you will rest in peace in the next.
Peace is a wonderful place to find. My wife suffers from a terrible physical malady called “restless legs.” It can be helped by medicine, but otherwise you are never at a place of peace. Being out of peace with God, whether you are aware of it or not, is to be agitated all the time. Nothing satisfies, and you are never content. Being at peace is something which escapes you, no matter what you may claim to others.
Do you want peace? You will only know it when you come to God by faith through Jesus. Apart from Him peace is simply not found.
“When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll,
whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well with my soul.’”
(First verse of Horatio Spafford’s hymn, “It Is Well with My Soul,” 1873)
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