inhabiting God’s peace about anything and everything

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.

John 14:27

I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.

John 14:27; MSG

I’ve been really honestly wondering why we can’t begin to inhabit God’s peace about anything and everything, albeit certainly in a limited way. What God thinks and feels, if we can say such a thing, and it seems to me based on Scripture, we most certainly can. Instead of being left to our own thoughts and feelings, sometimes full of alarm, or maybe more often just a gnawing fear and uneasiness, we can be hopefully more and more filled with God’s peace. By God’s peace I mean the sense that all is well in the sense that all will be well (Julian of Norwich).

This doesn’t mean we don’t face the real world, and experience more than disappointment along the way, with all the normal reactions that brings. Nor does it mean that we won’t face actual trouble. It just means that in the midst of all of this, we can inhabit God’s peace. And how is that possible? Jesus gives us no less than his own peace. Given not just to his disciples on the eve of his crucifixion. But to us all in and through Jesus.

I quote a hymn included in the new Mennonite hymnal, Voices Together:

1 Joys are flowing like a river
since the Comforter has come,
who abides with us forever,
makes the trusting heart a home.
Refrain:
Blessed quietness, holy quietness
what assurance in my soul!
On the stormy sea speaking peace to me
how the billows cease to roll!
2 Like the rain that falls from heaven,
like the sunlight from the sky,
so the Holy Ghost is given,
coming on us from on high. [Refrain]
3 See, a fruitful field is growing,
blessed fruit of righteousness,
and the streams of life are flowing
in the lonely wilderness. [Refrain]
4 What a wonderful salvation,
where we always see God’s face!
What a perfect habitation,
what a quiet resting place! [Refrain]
-Manie P. Ferguson

deal with today’s concerns, not tomorrow’s

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:34

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Matthew 6:34; NLT

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

Matthew 6:34; MSG

Yesterday at work I had a crushing burden which just seemed to be beyond all common sense about something which is going to happen soon, not earthshaking, but detailed. I thought of our Lord’s words inviting us who are weighed down to come to him and take his yoke on us, an easy yoke. And I thought of the passages telling us to cast our burdens on God. So I did my best to cast my burden on the Lord in my poor prayer.

After some period of time, the above passage came to me, and the weight was lifted off, and I felt a peace, and with that the longing to live in the Lord’s peace that he gives us. I was reminded how it’s not just enough to take our Lord’s yoke on us. But that part of learning from him as we take on that yoke, is receiving his words from other parts of Scripture. Taking them to heart and life. Seeking to live there.

Something I’ll be continuing to try to do and keep growing in along with others in and through Jesus.

not giving into fear

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.

John 14:27

These words of Jesus in the Upper Room Discourse on the eve of his crucifixion ring forward to this day. No command is repeated in Scripture more often than the command simply to not be afraid. I think we can carry that thought over into whatever it is that might cause us fear. I mean fear that keeps us away from living in God’s will.

There are so many things in this life which can be occasions to cave into fear. And when that happens, it’s harder getting out then it was falling in.

What is needed is a new pattern of life over time, a new habit which shapes us gradually. Of course with the “three steps forward, two steps backward” reality we all struggle with.

Jesus’s words were specific to what the disciples were facing during that time. It was certainly a dark time, and naturally the alarm would be sounding for them.

Whatever we might face, Jesus’s peace is present for us as well. It’s up to us to receive that word in faith, and make the concerted, sustained effort not to let our hearts be troubled, or be afraid. Of course there is always confession and forgiveness when we lapse back into our old ways. But that should never be an excuse for us to fail to set our sights on something much better. What God has for each and everyone of us in and through Jesus.

living with our differences

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.

Colossians 3:15a

In the real world there are stark differences of opinion, and that includes the church. When we say church, we should include the entire church also, and not only our local assembly. How do we learn to live together with our differences?

The word translated “peace” hearkens back, when considering Scripture, to the shalom of God’s kingdom. It’s not just an absence of strife, though often that’s where we need to begin. It’s the presence of a love that includes everyone, and therefore accepts each person, regardless of their view on anything. And it’s a gospel kind of love, intent in all of us finding our way in Jesus. Together yes, but as individuals. We each have to find that for ourselves. But we live it out together as members of one body in Christ, the church.

I think that means that we need to side step what might harm that. And a large part of understanding what that might be would be to consider what Christ would be about in the world. We after all are members of Christ.

When it comes to issues on which we disagree, it’s best to err on the side of love. Drop whatever violates love. If there’s something important enough to work through, do so, but also agree to disagree, so that we’re willing to drop it. There’s actually more strength in not having the last word, than having it. But our heart should not be in winning an argument, but love: God’s love in Christ by the Spirit. We are taking the way of the cross, the way of Christ, if we are willing to look like the losers. And acknowledge when we are wrong. And pray.

“Let the peace of Christ rule.” That’s a watchword for us as individuals, especially important in our relationships with each other, in the church. In and through Jesus.