Peace seems to be a most elusive commodity. We may think of how the world has changed since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, but the world has known very little in the way of peace since Cain killed Abel. Our history is marked by events of unimaginable evil and cruelty. Each day we see more and more of it played out on our TV screens – from the events in Ferguson to the beheadings and bombings by groups with strange names like Boko Haram, ISIS, and al-Qaeda to the tension between Israel and Iran, we desire peace but see little of it.
Even in our own homes we may find little peace. In many households tension and strife tend to be the norm not the exception. Parents and children argue. Parents argue with parents. Children argue with one another. Toss in the challenges of dealing with in-laws, step-parents, step-children, aging parents, and irresponsible adult children, and you can have quite a soap opera under your own roof.
If we find any peace at all, it seems to be tenuous and temporary. We want a refuge away from the chaos. Some of you may remember the old commercial where the weary woman who is at her wit’s end declares, “Calgon, take me away.” That few minutes spent soaking in a tub offered the promise of a little bit of peace.
As Jesus prepared His disciples for His arrest and death, as He prepared them to go on without Him being physically with them, He said, “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)
Jesus promised a peace that was not like the quasi-peace that the world offers. He promised and promises HIS peace.
The disciples had observed Jesus’ life. They had seen a man who became angry very seldom, but when He did it was either because God was being robbed of His glory or people were being abused by others. They had seen a man who seemed to be at peace even when under personal assault by the powerful religious leaders. Neither storms on the sea nor threats from the Pharisees rattled Him. He appeared to be immune to the circumstances swirling around Him. “My peace I give you,” He said. And that is exactly what we need.
In a time when peace seems like an impossible promise, we can find a peace that cannot be tarnished or diminished by anything that happens. Just as there is an area of calm inside the eye of a hurricane, we can have peace when the storms rage all around us. That peace is available to us, but how can we find it and keep it?
Peter wrote, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Peace does not come because all conflict around us ceases. Peace comes from Jesus. Paul tells us to take all our anxiety to the Lord. Trust Him with our stresses and fears. Instead of letting them tumble over and over in our minds like clothes in the dryer, take them to the Lord in prayer giving God our requests and offering Him our thanks as we remember His faithfulness. What the Lord wants to give us in place of our worries is peace, a peace that blows our minds, a peace that guards our hearts and guards our minds in Jesus.
The bumper sticker on the red Chevy truck read: “No Jesus – No Peace. Know Jesus – Know Peace.” I’m not usually much for bumper sticker theology, but that one hits the nail on the head.