Whether it’s the day before a US Presidential election, a Brexit vote, your son’s broken-down car, your loved one’s medical diagnosis, there is the possibility, of peace. More than that, there is the choice of peace. Too often this peace is communicated as, “Don’t worry, God’s on the throne.” While that is absolutely true it isn’t always helpful. Sometimes, the peace that we want is more like a numbness or isolation. We want to shut off our feelings or run away and hide (in Canada). These are not the kinds of peace that Jesus has for us. His peace isn’t distant on a throne in Heaven, it can be here and now. His peace isn’t neutral or hidden, it’s engaging and in full view. The peace that Jesus provides can be described like this: Practical Ease At Christ’s Expense.
Disclaimer; this is a modification of a definition of “grace” – God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense which I first heard attributed to Hal Lindsay. But, hey, it works, and there is nothing new under the sun.
When I get overwhelmed, I want to quit. Sometimes I wish I could quit life. To quote George Jetson, “Jane, get me off this crazy thing!” I just don’t know what to do. The peace that I want involves not doing anything, which is motivated by fear. But, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV) What I want to do approach is impractical. Some people want to take over and fight “it” and beat “it” whatever “it” is. God isn’t handling it, so I will! This approach is also impractical.
God’s peace, His shalom, is practical. It does something. That something isn’t supposed to be a mystery, it’s supposed to be knowable. It comes from God, and that’s the trick. In times of trial and seeming chaos, God tells His people a variety of things.
- With the enemy in hot pursuit, His people surrounded by mountains and a sea, He tells His people to walk through the Red Sea. (Exodus)
- When facing an impenetrable city He tells his people to march in silence with His presence leading the way. (Jericho)
- When His people are disobedient, He sends them into captivity with the promise or deliverance. They just have to wait. (Daniel)
- He tells His people to wait, to do nothing but anticipate His promised power that will be given to them to for the purpose of serving Him and building His kingdom. (Acts 1).
God’s peace is practical. It involves doing what God says, not what our fear says.
When I think of “ease” I think of an utter lack of responsibility and expectation on my part. I think of doing something that doesn’t seem like work. I think of someone else doing the hard stuff for me. This is not God’s concept of ease.
Jesus famous words at the end of Matthew 11 give us a word picture of the ease we can have as a part of His peace.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV
The picture involves a young and inexperienced ox being hitched together with an older, experienced ox, one who knows how to pace himself so as to be able to work a full day without burning himself out. Sometimes the older ox has to hold the younger one back. At other times the older one has to urge the younger one on to press in harder. After a few years of push and pull, the younger ox can now be at ease with regard to the strength needed in his work, and simply follow the direction of the one driving him.
As followers of Jesus we can push, stress, and burn ourselves out. We can also back way off, wanting to do nothing.
God’s peace involves ease. It involves following the lead of the One who knows what to do. There is ease to it.
At Christ’s Expense
This peace is only possible because of the price Jesus paid for us through the cross and empty tomb. It is His own peace, and He shares it with us. Peace isn’t a lack of conflict, it is the ability to be at rest through the conflict. This shalom has to do with blessing, good will, and rest.
- Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. – John 14:27
- Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7
- But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. – Colossians 3:14-15
Over and over God is referred to as the “God of peace”. The more you know Him, the more that He is your God, the more peace you will experience in the rhythms of your life.
God’s peace is just that; God’s. It involves not trying to create our own and embrace that which He has already paid for on our behalf.
What has you stressed out? What has you trying to take control? What has you wanting to give up? Take a few deep breaths. Make a few deep prayers. Let Jesus pull you along, or hold you back as needed. As Him what He would have you doing, then do it, even if it includes nothing, which is really just waiting.
[reminder]What has you stressed out? What can you do about it.[/reminder]