From the Pastor’s Study is Rev. Richards’ monthly newsletter reflection. If you’d like to see this month’s messenger - click here
I look to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD. Psalm 121
As I write this I’m preparing to get a sermon ready on the peace of Christ. As someone who lives with generalized anxiety – I have always felt a deep echo in my heart around the peace that our Lord offers. It’s an ironic echo though – as I rarely physically experience it.
Anxiety means that for me, my fight or flight response is on a hair trigger. It shoots me full of adrenaline and cortisone for almost not reason at all. Of course – its always been this way for me, so I don’t know what it would be like otherwise. But when Jesus talks about Peace – I long for it – physically, mentally, because it is rare.
But we should be clear here. When Jesus says Peace – we are all hearing something a little different. Aren’t we?
I’ve often heard from confirmation students and junior high kids that Heaven sounds really boring – because its all peace and joy and praising God. Peace to them sounds like not doing anything. On the other hand if I’m talking to a veteran, especially those who’ve done combat duty, a normal day around town is such a miracle of peace – with folks just driving to the post office, getting groceries – this is the home life they desperately longed for – and that they have often fought to restore in villages and cities torn by war.
For others – Peace is being free of the longings that addiction has left deep in the core of their minds, or Peace can be letting go of our need for control and all the things we do that give us the feeling of control.
When Jesus offers us Peace – it is a divine and holy gift – beyond our comprehension or measure. It could be all of the above – but aside from psychological or physical relief, there is something bigger at work here too. Jesus knows our human frame. He knows that we are always pursuing something. It might be progress or control, productivity or status, money, friends, isolation – you name it. We humans, although created to be in relationship and pursuit of God, instead are under the illusion that we can fill that void with something else. We think it is our responsibility to pursue whatever it is to fill our lives because we are convinced that it is our job to create / complete ourselves.
We desperately race after whatever it might be that will either distract us temporarily, or fulfill us for at least a little while. I’ll be happy when…if only I just had…but the truth is harder, and also more wonderful. God is in fact pursuing us. God is bringing us the gift of peace. Jesus is himself offering us the gift of peace. And while it may not give immediate relief in this life – it is the beginning of the solution, and it is its ultimate completion in the time to come.
God is welcoming in us into relationship – not because of our pursuit of God (although it doesn’t hurt) – but because of God’s love for us. God created us. We do not create ourselves. We aren’t able to improve and add on and succeed and work hard enough to become our own gods, fulfill our own voids. Rather, the one who made us is ready and offering to do so – and asks our trust, our hearts, our time, and our obedience. And we can imperfectly offer them, human as we are. God is completing us even now.
Peace - PrCR