by Shelly Mathis
The conviction of the Holy Spirit exposed an idol to me – not something
grotesque or evil, but actually something I thought was a very good thing. What
was the false god? The desire for peace. The desire was so strong, I sought to
control another person's behavior in order to prevent a temper tantrum on their
part and maintain an atmosphere of peace around me.
Thankfully, the Sword of the Lord brought His conviction and truth to my heart, and now the old idol is burning by the “Brook Kidron.” (2 Chronicles 29:16) However, events being what they are in the world around us, I felt this lesson was applicable to the Body of Christ on many levels.
I (and maybe some of you) not only long for peace, but we lust for it. We strive to control our environments to make them comfortable. What is comfortable? No trouble!
For each one of us, there are different trigger points that steal our peace. We fight against that which threatens our sense of well-being – even if it means controlling others (or situations) to maintain our peace.
When we exalt this need for peace, we are idolizing it and operating in unbelief. Faith flies out the window. We kick God off the throne. And our striving to avoid trouble actually produces trouble.
The Holy Spirit revealed to me that my concept of peace – even the world's concept of peace – is basically unscriptural. It is not the peace He promised to us in the Word.
What is the actual environmental condition of men on earth? Trouble! The book of Job states that “...man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7) As Oswald Chambers said, “The basis of life is tragic.” (My Utmost for His Highest, June 24th)
The fallen nature of man – namely, sin – is a fact. And sin produces trouble to all men everywhere, at all times. Fallen man can strive to do all he can to create peace and safety, but it is all in vain apart from the redemption provided in Jesus Christ.
Jesus, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), said the following: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)
The entrance of the Prince of Peace did not produce peace among carnal men; rather it caused division among the nations and families of the earth (both then and now). The purpose of that division is to separate truth from error, light from darkness, the holy from the vile. Those who choose the darkness will strive for peace, but never find it – not true peace. However, those who choose the Light will find the peace that surpasses all understanding.
Jesus told His disciples, “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)
Right here Jesus revealed that the peace the world gives, promises, and strives for is NOT the same kind of peace He provides to His disciples. What is the world's concept of peace? No trouble; no division; no fear; no lack. Notice that these all imply a state of external peace. Hm. It sounds great, but Jesus said He does not give peace in that way. So how does He give peace? Internally. The same way He found it while living on this troubled earth.
Jesus was absolutely surrounded by trouble on earth. Herod tried to kill Him when He was only a helpless baby. His brothers were embarrassed and tried to silence His ministry. The Pharisees accused Him of blasphemy. Once the masses even tried to push Him off a cliff to His death.
These are only a few examples, but the truth of the matter was that Jesus did not enjoy the peace we long for while on this earth... not even amongst His closest companions.
Right before the climax of His earthly life, Jesus prophesied to His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone.” (John 16:32a) He foretold that in the very near future His own friends would behave in such a way as to produce trouble for Jesus.
Yet, He determined that He would have peace in spite of the circumstances and environmental trouble: “And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.” (John 16:32b)
What produced His peace? The internal knowledge, belief, and faith that the Father was with Him. He stayed in peace by staying in the Father, in the Spirit. His peace was not dependent upon external circumstances, nor how those around Him behaved. It was imperturbable (could not be disturbed or agitated; permanently quiet; unshakably calm and collected).
What was His exhortation to His disciples (and thus to me)? “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
IN Christ we can have peace – no matter what tribulation is going on around us. And... He promised that there would be trouble! The world will have trouble; people around us will have trouble; nevertheless, we can have peace – and even be of good cheer – because we overcome the world (and its trouble) when we walk in Christ, in the Spirit.
When we truly know, believe, and trust that the Father is with us, we will walk in imperturbable peace as Jesus did. The world around us may crumble, the economy may collapse, the nations may war, our closest companions may scatter – but Jesus promises that we can still have peace as He did and be unshakably calm and collected.
May we all learn to abide in the Spirit to such a degree that heaven's imperturbable peace rules our hearts. This will equip us to demonstrate His Kingdom victory as we live through end-time events.
“The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people with peace.”
2 Thessalonians 3:16
“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.”