Updated: Dec 3, 2022
I love plain English Bible translations that really bring a point home. This is so very clear. Jesus is telling us He provides, here and now, a kind of peace He alone can deliver. It’s true. Some of you for sure know what I mean. You've been in totally peaceless situations and nonetheless felt THAT peace. I’d love for you to share your stories of peace that was totally beyond understanding (Philippians 4:6) cuz I’m sure you have some!
Others are like, “Bah-humbug! There’s no such peace! Do you know what I’m dealing with, lady?
This time of year, we’re reminded of Isaiah’s prophecy, emblazoned on Christmas cards and regalia everywhere:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
I love this passage, too! What a promise! Our Savior is a Great Counselor, Mighty, Eternal, and the Prince of Peace.
Jesus contrasts His peace with the peace “this world can give.” What kind of peace is that? I have to refer to my own life experience of peace-seeking. And I do have considerable experience. Here are some highlights of my worldly peace-seeking mission:
Status peace. I’m not naturally inclined to conforming, but I did try really hard at different times to attain status one way or another. Associating value with status-symbols—education, address, pedigree, etc.--never offered any lasting peace and amped angst because I wasn’t being true to me. I also sometimes diverted my energy from more important and gratifying pursuits.
Financial peace. Bahaha. I’m more peaceful now, with a really modest income, than I ever was when I was making beaucoup bucks. I don’t think that’s necessarily the case, but it was for me. There was a lot of anxiety attached to big-ticket jobs. Let’s not even talk about the ultimate peaceless-ness of shopping and overspending. Are we willing to trade it for peace?
Cocktail peace. Alcohol used to take the edge off for me, but it was more like anesthesia because whatever was causing me angst was still there in the morning, and eventually alcohol became the cause of dis-ease itself!
Culinary peace. Anyone out there eat their way to peace? I’ll be quiet now. There’s unique peace-lessness in a plump profile and clothes that no longer fit.
Problem-less peace. I've sought peace in periods when there were no challenges to overcome and as you know, there's always something!
Relational peace. I have gotten into and clove to some relationships primarily as a means to get some peace and let me tell you, that didn’t work out so well for anyone. Making mere humans the source of our security, no matter they are, doesn’t make for peace.
Religious peace. Even as a passionate Christian, I’ve engaged in stacks of empty religious practices in a desperate effort to secure peace. They morphed into a form of superstitious practice, which is a peaceless prison indeed. Not to sound cliché, but it really is about relationship! If the practice isn't drawing you closer to God, ixnay.
Perfect peace. This isn’t the spiritual kind, this is the crazy-making kind. Oh, how hard I’ve tried to be perfect, act perfect, think perfect, as a source of serenity. Seems like the more perfect I strive to be, the less peace I experience. This doesn't mean we abandon the pursuit of spiritual growth and obedience, but rather that we're empowered by Christ who starts and finishes the work.
Media peace. I don’t object to the occasional binge-watching binge but drowning feelings in sensory input is like any other avoidant diversion. It can suck the life out of life and cause us to not address what’s stealing our peace. Mind-numbing often prevents us from doing things that might actually bring peace and then we feel lousy about it.
Please NOTE: This is closely related to my last blog about getting what you (think you) want.
That’s a whole lot of wheel-spinning, especially these days, when there’s more to be peace-less about. Perfect, transcendent peace is very attractive but seems totally elusive. If you identify with my misguided practices and feel a bit cringy, ask God to help you tune into what that feeling is revealing to you but reject the shame. Jesus bore your shame on the cross so you don't have to!
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Isaiah 26:3
But, Isabella, you say, I very rarely experience that kind of peace you’re talking about. Maybe never.
Sister, brother: I’m going to be so bold as to say that if you’re not experiencing Christ’s peace, you’re not in right relationship with Him. Now, now…before you get all defensive, let me please qualify that.
JESUS. He’s it. He’s THE SOURCE. The Alpha and the Omega. The One and Only. To experience His supreme, sweet, and baffling peace, we must fix our eyes on Him and His sufficiency. Our right relationship with Him is not governed by our goodness, but by His. It’s not secured by our righteousness, but His.
But Isabella, are you saying it doesn’t matter if I’m a louse? Absolutely not! As I repeat unto annoyance, we have to be in a posture of humble repentance and dependence to really enjoy the utter and undeniable sufficiency of Christ. If you’re wantonly engaging in any kind of sin knowingly and unrepentantly, you’re going to feel disconnected from the PEACE. This doesn’t mean you have to be perfect, you just have to acknowledge your failing to the One who promises to forgive and free us (1 John 1:9). There can be no peace without Truth and that means honesty.
The thing is, it’s deceptively simple, really. The challenge is resting in our total dependence on Christ for our standing and security. If we’re relying on anything else to secure His peace and love, you’re not going to have peace, because we know we’re unworthy and unsaved, apart from Him.
I’m going to conclude with another treasure from Isaiah:
For this is what the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said: "In repentance [returning to me] and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength.” But you were not willing. Isaiah 30:15 (NASB)
As we embark on Advent, waiting for the gift of our Loving Prince of Peace, let us be willing!
Love, grace, peace, and joy in Christ!
PRAYER: Prince of Peace, I so want the peace only You can offer. Please help me repent and rest in your eternal and perfect provision. I thank YOU and love YOU. Amen!
ACTION: Meditate on each of the verses mentioned in this blog this week and journal your impressions. Receive their promise as complete truth.
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