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God's gift of peace

This is the third and final post in the series on Peace. I think that it is also my most important and serious entry on this topic, so please read carefully and thoughtfully. I welcome your comments on this topic.

See the previous posts “Pursuing the Peace of God” and “Beware! Peace Robbers,”  based on the “Word of the Week:” 

“Turn from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it” Psalm 34:14

A Gift of Peace from God

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27

Jesus is preparing to leave the disciples and now gives them some of his most profound words. He tells them that he is going to the Father, but not to be afraid. He is leaving them with the gift of peace. He comforts them with the promised Holy Spirit who will be their Advocate of Truth, their Comforter and their Teacher.

These are not words that they were ready to receive! Later, after Jesus is gone, they will remember and they will be comforted and strengthened. They will find hope and purpose.

The World’s Seduction

He had also reminded them to remain in his love, which is the place of security in a world that will reject and hate them.

“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.”  John 15:18-19

Early in his ministry, Jesus taught that we are not to put our confidence in the world. He taught that love for the things that the world provides will choke out our love for God and cause us to be anxious.

To reinforce this point, God has put signs in the natural world that point to the truth of His care for us. He makes a promise to us that if we will trust Him, He will care for us.

God has put signs in the world that point to the truth of His care for us.

Look at the Sparrows

“Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?…And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?… “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

I watched a video clip recently at The Work of the People in which author and theologian Walter Brueggemann talks about the need for the church to disengage from the fearful anxiety that permeates our society – an anxiety that is brought about through greed and selfishness and exclusionary practices. He suggests that the church has been seduced into the world.

Seek Peace and Pursue It

  • How then can we be at peace in an increasingly tumultuous and evil world?
  • How do we pursue peace?
  • Practically speaking, how will we, the church, individually and corporately, come out of our worldliness and find peace?

Sabbath Rest and Worldliness

W.Brueggemann believes that the church must recover the practice of Sabbath rest.

The practice of Sabbath rest breaks the cycle of production and consumption that leaves us restless and dissatisfied.

The practice of rest involves releasing control of our lives – at least for one day – to God. We learn to trust his provision. We find his goodness to be satisfying enough for us.

Ultimately, we will never have peace on the inside if we persist in proclaiming Jesus, but practicing the world.

In Light of This...

“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from the world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” 1 John 2:15-17

Whoa! Bet you didn’t see that one coming. What a powerhouse of verses! These verses have been a great challenge to me (in a mostly positive way). I hold them up as a mirror on my life and ask God to show me where my life patterns the world and causes me to be subject to anxiety and stress.

It isn’t as if God would deny us good things, but when we try to grasp them for ourselves as a lifestyle, they can become an idol and they drown out the voice of God. So, I ask the Spirit of God to reveal truth to me about the way that I live.

  • In what ways does my life pattern the world and thus cause me to be anxious or afraid?
  • How might I change the rhythm and patterns of my lifestyle so that I might walk in peace and contentment?

Making a practice of Sabbath rest is one way in which Christians can break free of the power of this world to draw them into a lifestyle that leaves little room for God. Look for a future post on the topic of Sabbath Rest.

In the meantime, I invite your comments about this. If you think that these are ideas that the church should be discussing then please share. 

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