A Robust Peace
Peace. Peace. Peace.
I JUST WANT SOME PEACE!!!
It’s an all too familiar cry.
In a busted, disordered world, the cry for peace can be heard all over the place.
Stop long enough and you will hear it coming from you too.
But what are we after?
What kind of peace do we long for?
Maybe you want relief from stress, or kids who do what they’re told, or a nice nap on the couch in the afternoon, or simply to feel healthy and well. There’s nothing wrong with these desires necessarily. But drill down a little deeper and consider the kind of peace each of these would give you – a peace dependent upon circumstances.
We want things to go our way. We want our environment and circumstances to be just right. And who wouldn’t want that? It would be easy to be peaceful if everything around you is peaceful. There is nothing wrong with enjoying order and serenity. One day Jesus will bring an all-pervading peace (Isaiah 11:8) – and that day will be a good day!
But be careful. In a fallen world, a circumstantial peace is fragile.
It’s hard to get and even harder to keep.
What we really need is a peace that is not dependent upon our surroundings.
We need a robust peace.
Here’s the good news: Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is keen on you having a peace that keeps going even when your surroundings are less than peaceful. He is up to something way better than merely arranging your circumstances so your life goes well. If you look at the gospels closely, you can see him leading the disciples in this.
In John 16 Jesus reassures his disciples that everything is going to be OK, but he does it in the oddest of ways. He tells them a bunch of good stuff and then a bunch of bad stuff set to happen in the future. “Fair enough,” we say, “I can see how good stuff is helpful, but how is telling someone about future bad stuff helpful?” Here it is:
Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:32–33
Now if you are anything like me, as soon as you hear about bad stuff, all of the good stuff gets forgotten. Fear and anxiety have a way of selectively deleting the hard drive!
Here is a Sondergeld paraphrase of this section:
Pressure is going to come, you are going to be scattered, I am going to be left alone (even though I am never alone), I told you these things so that you would have peace, you are going to have tribulation, I have overcome the world.
Stop for a moment. Would Jesus’ words help you? If you knew all of the good and bad things that were going to happen in the next 12 months would that be helpful to you? Sometimes knowing the future can make things worse – especially if our view of peace is dependent upon what is happening around us.
But don’t miss what Jesus is up to. Jesus is working for a peace that is dependent upon what is happening inside of the disciples, not what is happening outside of them.
How do you get that kind of peace?
Don’t miss the hints in these verses.
The first is: Peace comes through Jesus speaking to you (v33 – “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace”). It was Jesus talking to the disciples that was meant to create peace in them. The good shepherd was shepherding them with his words. And he still does. What was the last thing Jesus spoke to you through scripture? I bet it was good. I bet it nourished and helped you. I bet it brought life to you, even if it was hard to hear. It always does. It has to. Jesus speaks, you live. That’s how it worked in the beginning (Genesis 1) and that’s how it still works.
The second is: Peace comes from being connected to Jesus (v33 – “in me you may have peace”) – the ultimate overcomer. The disciples were not going to have peaceful surroundings, but that didn’t mean their hopes for peace were dashed. The secret to peace is looking to Jesus and being united with Him in the details of life. If you are joined to Jesus the overcomer, how could you not have peace? If you are disconnected from Jesus, how can you expect anything but turmoil?
Circumstantial peace is a fragile peace.
Do you want a strong peace?
A peace that can survive the ravages of a fallen world?
A peace that isn’t dependent upon your surroundings?
Then you need Jesus — The talking, shepherding, Prince of Peace.
by Peter Sondergeld