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)
Although I was around during the 60s, I was pretty far removed from the reality of what was going on in the world. But even in my Tinker Toy- and Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon-filled childhood, I was still aware of the acid-dropping counter-culture-types with their long hair and love beads who participated in sit-ins and other non-threatening demonstrations against war, passively brandishing peace signs in the direction of the establishment-types.
Although they were called “hippies” at the time, these days we call those folks baby boomers – individuals who are moving and shaking and creating policy and making laws and influencing the way things are carried out in this country. (Hopefully, most of them have given up the acid…)
Despite their determination to make peace instead of war in their youths, it seems they were actually unable to accomplish that – still are. Of course, they’re not alone in that matter; the world seems to be constantly at war. As the late Gilda Radner used to say on “Saturday Night Live” in the guise of her character, Rosanne Roseannadanna, “It’s always something. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.”
Whether we’re at war with another country or an opposing belief system or at war with God, we can’t seem to make peace. Peace – at least man-made peace like that demonstrated by a barefoot flower child putting daisies in some riot policeman’s gun barrel or by the Grammy winner for best hip-hop album declaring “peace out, ya’ll” before leaving the stage – is illusive.
Real peace, however, doesn’t have to be illusive at all.
In His final hours here on earth, Jesus, as quoted in John 14:27 above, told His disciples that he was leaving them peace – not the peace offered by the United Nations or the threat of economic sanctions or a frighteningly large arsenal of weapons, but real peace. Peace with God.
The Hebrew word for peace in the Old Testament is shalom, or the appearance of calm and tranquility among people or nations; in other words, flower-child-with-daisies peace, the peace we always seem to be fighting for. Contrast that with the Greek word eirene (i-ray’-nay), used to mean peace in the New Testament (from which Jesus is always quoted). Eirene means unity or rest. That’s the peace Jesus is talking about – unity with God rather than separation from Him; entering God’s “rest,” or resting assured of our salvation through Him.
I wasn’t just speaking metaphorically above when I said we’re at war with God – thanks to Adam and Eve and their fall from grace in the garden of Eden, that’s just who we all are. We want to defy God’s plans for us and go our own way and rule our own destiny, even if we’re doing a terrible job of it; and God will let us do that if we insist. It’s not His will for us; His will for us is to live in peace with Him. But He gave us the freedom to choose, so He will give us our hearts desire, even when we choose death rather than peace with Him.
I was at war with God before I became a follower of Jesus. I didn’t think about it like that at the time, but I was marching in lockstep with a godless world, headed down the path I had chosen using the freedom God had given me; a path that would have eventually ended up with me separated from Him forever.
The only way I could end that war and live in unity and rest with God was through Jesus by way of the eirene He offered so freely through His death on the cross. Not shalom as we try so desperately to create in the world around us, but eirene.
In June of 2010 I finally found eirene with God – unity with Him and the assurance of my salvation. After 52 years, the war was finally over. Thank God I lost…
Are you still at war with God? If you don’t know Jesus as Savior and are still following your own path, doing pretty much what feels good to you, that’s the best way I can describe it.
Everything may seem fine now. Pursuing the desires of your physical self, the “flesh” as the Bible calls it, can be fun and satisfying and feel totally natural. Trust me when I tell you I still remember what all that felt like. There isn’t a day goes by that I’m not reminded in some way of the life I used to live. And if I’m totally honest, there are those times when I catch myself thinking, “If it wasn’t against God’s will for me to [fill in the blank] I just might do it.” Not with any sort of longing or regret or in a way that’s even tempting, but just as an echo of that tiny little voice that’s what’s leftover of my former “fleshly” self.
But God has higher expectations for me than that. That may not sound like the most compelling reason to turn your life over to Him, but think about it – the Creator of everything we see and can’t see, the Creator of the entire universe, has high expectations for me. Wow – just, wow.
And it doesn’t stop there. Remember the verse from my post, “Let it Flow”?
For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Those plans don’t include any vestige of my former self – they include marching in lockstep with God, “marching to Zion” as the old hymn says; they include peace and joy and unimaginable love and mercy. Why would I ever choose to go back? Why would I ever give up this eirene with God? (Rhetorical questions, both of them.) Nothing can look or feel or taste that good.
Again, trust me. Actually, not me – trust God. Trust…
…him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine… (Ephesians 3:20)
Ask Jesus’ to give you His peace – His eirene – so you can find unity and rest in God. Let God give you a hope and a future like He has me. Let Him have high expectations for you. Find out what it’s like to want nothing more than to exceed those expectations. You can’t do it, but He can cause you to want to more than anything.
“Heavenly Father, I praise your name and thank you, as I do every day, for my salvation through Jesus and His eirene; for lifting me out of the mud and mire, setting my feet on a rock and giving me a firm place to stand; for unity and rest in you. Thank you for all that you’ve given me – this blog, for example; this forum to share what you did for me. Right now, I’m praying that you will move in the heart of the person reading this who doesn’t know you the way I do; the person who is still at war with you. Please show them the way to salvation through Jesus. Please show them His eirene, His peace, the only way to end that war and find unity and rest in you – right now…”
War – what is it good for?
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