And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Just outside Washington, DC, a guard is marching back and forth in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. To serve as a guard demands superb focus, discipline, and devotion to duty. A soldier first receives special training that is long, exacting, and difficult. The first phase of the training has a 60 percent fail rate. The second phase has 90 percent.
In addition, no one should ever make the mistake of presuming the guard on duty is not serious about protecting the dignity of the tomb. YouTube has several examples of what happens when an immature tourist decides to challenge the guard in some way. Every time, the results for the tourist are not pleasant.
Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, a guard is there. That elite sentinel is always watching, vigilant, and prepared to protect.
When the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi, he was writing to people who knew about military life. Many retired soldiers called Philippi home. Anyone who had served as a Roman soldier knew the profound seriousness of serving as a guard. Failure in such duty could mean your execution.
Paul, therefore, meant something when he promised the Philippian Christians that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” This peace, of which Paul spoke, was not some sentimental wish. Rather, it was a specific peace that Christ Jesus had conquered for them on their behalf. He had conquered it for them through the sinless life he had lived in their place. He had conquered it for them through his suffering and death for their every sin. And now, because Jesus lived, the peace of God they possessed would guard their hearts and minds. Through the troubles and griefs of a broken world, the peace of God would be on duty, always watching, always vigilant, always prepared to protect.
In those moments in our lives when the storms are fierce, when the stress is great, when our weakness is clear, the peace of God is on duty. It’s right by our side, just as Jesus is.
Lord Jesus, your peace stands guard over me always. Thank you. Amen.