Peace is an elusive goal.
For one, how do we even describe peace?
- Is it between two parties or countries?
- Is it inner peace?
- Is it spiritual peace?
- The answer is YES to all of those questions.
Peace has multiple definitions and expressions. Peace may even be different from one generation to the next.
100 (or so) years ago – Peace was sought after so that countries could be rebuilt (and is still true in many parts of the world), more bloodshed led to the winner and once a winner was declared all parties returned to reconstruct that which was destroyed. Peace at home was elusive in the dark shadow of Jim Crow laws, the Great Depression and the great migration of people from farms and small towns to large cities.
50 (or so) years ago – Peace was still sought after overseas, but this time as a humanitarian effort, and answers were demanded out of cultural, racial and international demand. Marches, youth movements and catchy slogans took over national nomenclature. Peace at home couldn’t be found until all had access to full human rights.
25 (or so) years ago – Peace was sought on multiple fronts. There were still international issues in a post-cold war, post-gulf war time where terrorism was now at our doorstep. But then we had our own personal issues of drug abuse, rising violence, poverty gap ever increasing, and our beloved homeland becoming a desired landing spot for the world’s displaced…they too wanted freedom and to live the American dream.
Today – the fight that may have been fought overseas, or in some other city, or some slum, or some other family, has now been taken to every family, in every city and in every neighborhood. Our money, mental health, race, ethnicity, religion does NOT exclude us from this elusive search for PEACE.
It can all be overwhelming!
AND YET…the call of Jesus to every nation, to every person, in every generation is the same as it was 2000 years ago.
Jesus beckons us to be with him so that in every situation throughout our human existence we can find REST (aka peace)
Matthew 11:25-30 – NLT
“O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. 26 Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way!
27 “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
So, when Jesus says the revelation is given to children, it makes sense. Sometimes we’re too grown up, and “mature”, to fully embrace and understand the fullness of what being in Christ looks like.
There is actual science behind why our maturity levels begin to filter out things we deem unnecessary. (Article by Marissa Fessenden in Smithsonian Magazine) The phenomenon is known as Perceptual Narrowing. These studies are done on infants across racial and ethnic lines, and it is proven that even after a few months, babies lose the ability to notice details only they can see.
So, it is in our nature that when we are like babies, or infants, we get to see an image of Jesus that is more accurate and true, than when we grow up and have a better cognitive explanation of Jesus. And although the maturity we experience is good, and although ability to learn is good, if we do not return to a child-like state (at times), to fully see the goodness of God, the work of Jesus, then we lose the real image of who Jesus is. I want my kids to grow up, to not always be infants, to go to college, be financially independent, learn, grow academically, but every once in a while it sure is nice when they come home and just want a hug, and to know that Libby and I are ALWAYS there.
A return to innocence and the purity of being a child helps us to accept verse 27.
Verse 27 “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
Then when we see Jesus as who he is truly meant to be seen, we open our hearts to receive what he has to give.
Verse 28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Are you weary? Feel like you are carrying a heavy burden?
Jesus is inviting us to turn that weariness and those burdens over to Him.
Without God, life can be overwhelming, but when we allow Him to lead and guide us, when we allow faith to be how we look at the world, our perspective changes.
What is Peace?
- freedom from disturbance; tranquility.
- a state or period in which there is no war or a war has ended
The bad news is that this is not the peace Jesus promises us. Not that Jesus isn’t concerned with the state of the world’s affairs. But his promise is to the individual..he promises a Spiritual Peace.
What is Spiritual Peace?
The last time Jesus shared a meal with the disciples, He began to share with Him why His departure was going to be a good thing.
The presence and power of God could only be seen in the person of Jesus. The disciples saw some amazing moments, but so many others missed it. And if a disciple was running an errand when Jesus was healing people or speaking with authority, well then he just missed it.
Jesus says that after his death and resurrection, the presence of God would now freely be available to every person who chose to surrender their life and follow Him.
Jesus finishes what he started and is true to his word, only to leave his disciples in the hands of the Holy Spirit. They know they are going to face troubles, they know the road ahead isn’t easy, yet Jesus comforts them by saying…
John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
What can we learn about Spiritual Peace from the promise Jesus gave his disciples?
Jesus and the world have two different perspectives.
John 14:27a – Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
This isn’t to say that everything outside of the church is evil and wrong, because that isn’t true.
At the same time, we cannot also assume that what we do in our own strength, and in our wisdom, lines up to the intentions God has for us.
How I understand Jesus’ point of view here is that there is a deeper meaning of peace that we cannot find in our culture wars of right and wrong.
Jesus is saying there is peace, a legacy of peace that is to be propagated to others. He’s modeled altruism and giving of one’s self for his friends and neighbors, one that we are to emulate.
So when he says, “I leave peace” it’s an encouragement and a challenge to do the same for others.
But when he moves to “peace I give you”…that’s a personal gift of inner peace that comes with knowing he is who he says he is.
These men and women lived with him, ate with him, saw him become less than, they saw him beaten and bruised, and died a physical death.
And then they witnessed his word coming to pass…his resurrection from the dead.
They saw full circle the life of Jesus, they not only believed in their hearts, but they were being renewed in their minds.
He had given the gift of peace in being fully who he said he was, the son of God, and the one who would be the perfect sacrifice for all of eternity.
Jesus gave them the peace they could live out in their inner soul, and that the overflow of that peace was also a gift he gave, that other men and women could have access to peace.
Have you heard of the Armor of God? Paul, the church planter writes his friends in Ephesus on how to maintain their connection with God rather than allowing the attacks from darkness, evil, and the spiritual realm to get to us.
One of the items in the armor is…
Ephesians 6:15 – …your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace
Are you known for bringing the gospel of peace wherever you go?
Trouble will attack your “heart”
John 14:27b – Do not let your hearts be troubled
- Here “heart” can be translated to thoughts/feelings also a literal “in the middle”
- The middle/our soul will face attacks, and yet we are to be aware of these and not be troubled by them
Jesus was a realist, trouble will attack your heart, but that doesn’t mean our hearts should be overtaken by the trouble we face. We are challenged to be overcomers with the issues of life we face.
When facing a troubled heart/inner soul, what part(s) of you get attacked?
Your dreams, your marriage, your “demons” of life, your past pain, your failures?
Fear should not rule our life
John 14:27c – …and do not be afraid (do not worry)
Matthew 6 verse 27 asks us a simple question that may be hard for us to answer
Matthew 6:27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
Now, in context, this passage is speaking to worrying about your money, your possessions, and the future. But the application is still the same, “Can all of your worrying add a single moment to your life?”
In January of 2018, Cambridge University Press released an update on a study being done on mental health and life expectancy. Nine years into the study, it was very clear that chronic worrying, depression and anxiety were catalysts to increased mortality rates among those groups of people. That statement alone is causing some of you to breathe heavily, “oh great, now I have to worry about dying because i’m worried about dying.”
The goal here is not to heap shame on you, the goal is to inspire us all to understand that worry and fear are natural, God gave us those feelings and abilities, but to protect us, not to rule our life. Similar to sex and food, which are meant to be enjoyed in the way God designed them to be enjoyed, but uninhibited, they can create addiction and health problems. Our fear is supposed to be something we listen to, process, take action steps to face, but God is greater than our fears. He’s equipped you to be more than your fears and worries.
Do you have a current/ongoing issue that regularly overtakes you with fear?
Trust Jesus in all things.