Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Hope of Peace

What would you give for peace?

I don't mean your pageant answer or your impressive exposition for a public that adores you. I mean, what would you give for peace of mind? What would you pay, besides your current pharmacy and physician bills, to sleep the sleep of the worry-free? What is it worth to you to rest in childlike faith and know that you are cared for, loved, and that everything will be okay? Think about that. Take a second and really think. Ponder on this. Close your eyes, breathe in, and think: What if I didn't have to worry about ______?

Fill in that blank.

Fill in that blank and think about how much you would borrow, beg, steal and give away to have peace in your mind. Peace in your heart. Peace in your soul. You, see, as believers, we are "At Peace with God" - Romans 5:1: "Now that we have been put right with God through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."

I am reminded of the song, "It Is Well With My Soul." The story of the writer is beautiful. And while I cannot fathom the trials he went through to be able to pen and write that song, it's amazing to me that it could be written, at all:
"When Peace, like a river, attendeth my way.
When sorrows, like sea billows, roll.
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul."

My own life is a testimony in the search for peace. If you ever need a lesson in how NOT to use your life for God, look to Michael Kennedy: Waste. Selfishness. Vanity. Escapism. Hedonism. If you can think of it, I've probably tried it. But... peace? kindness? love? grace? No. I didn't know them. I've spent my life, even during my formative years in church, searching. Searching for ways to blend in, searching for ways to see how others had these things, searching for answers and peace. It's vastly different when you meet the source of peace, rather than just know about the peace. I know 1%-ers that would give any amount of money to be able to be breathe deeply and have peace. I know people stricken with illness after illness that would sell all of their belongings to have peace of mind and be well. I know people in poverty that would, by any means necessary - legal or not, give anything they had to have a moment of peace that security can afford. But you cannot buy peace. You cannot sell peace. You cannot trade for peace.

Despite humankind's best efforts, the world's longing for peace remains unfulfilled. Each new generation has higher and higher hopes for peace. We, as a people, and as the human race have longed for reconciliation among people and nations but in the end, we all end up facing disappointment. Daily, the news seems to bring more and more bad news. One day Christ will return and one day, peace will reign. Until then, believers are called to be His ambassadors of peace. Reread that. Until the Rapture, until God comes back, until time ends... we, the believers, are called to be Ambassadors of His Peace. We are his ministers of reconciliation. We are what the world sees when they see Christ. What does the world see when they look at you? Can they tell a difference between you and them? Do your actions, words, and attitude make you seamlessly one with the world? Or does it set you apart? Is there anything in you that should make them want Christ?

Does the love of Christ come from you?
Does kindness and how Christ would treat them come from you?
Does grace and doing what the God of all creation come from you?
Does peace, and the Peace of Christ come from you?
Do you reflect anything worth taking note of?

Or do you reflect other qualities? These are hard questions for hard times. Christ doesn't hate. He doesn't separate. He doesn't divide. He doesn't treat unequally. Christ isn't unkind. He doesn't overlook the addicted, the dirty, the poor. He doesn't overlook the hungry, or the needy. Christ doesn't react without grace and wisdom. Christ doesn't speak in extremes of US and THEM. He doesn't treat Samaritans differently than Jews. He died for Gentiles and Pagans. He died for Pharisees and Sadducees. Christ doesn't promote division and war. Christ provides peace.

Even as "Christians," at times we're quick-tempered and impatient and find it hard to live in harmony with others. But why? If you really believe in God, and trust in Jesus, what wouldn't you do for others and in His name? We may have trouble letting go of attitudes or habits that hurt those around us—and occasionally we don't even want to. But ask yourself why. Only you, inside of yourself can answer what your true motives are for your actions, words, and deeds. In reality, no one wants to think they are a bad person. No one likes to be reprimanded or feel guilt. It's humiliating and we justify and rationalize our works - "we only lied because..., we told that fib to avoid confrontation. We didn't want to have a confrontation in our home, in our family, at work, at the grocery store, at the gas station. We only told that gossip because they needed prayer. We only confirmed that negative truth about a friend that isn't doing very good because we needed to make another friend feel better. We only made fun of her dress because she should have known better than to wear it. We have a million excuses. We have a million reasons. But, God knows our true character and has provided the Holy Ghost to transform us into Jesus' likeness. The Spirit of God opens our minds to understand and apply Scripture. He gives us the power to say no. Hear that. You have the power to say no to things. You are not required to say yes to ungodliness. You have been given the ability, brain, rationale, and intestinal fortitude to replace selfishly-motivated, "me-"centered thinking with a Christ-centered viewpoint. He patiently produces His fruit in us, which includes love, joy, and peace (Gal. 5:22-23). With His help, we can become peacemakers who work to bring about reconciliation between God and others (Matt. 5:9).

We, as believers, have answers. While our world keeps hoping for peace through man's solutions, we know the only source of lasting unity is Jesus. The Lord wants our hearts to be ruled by His peace (Col. 3:15) and our relationships to be marked by a spirit of oneness. Oneness, as children of God, and especially as the people he gave His name to! How encouraged other people will be when they realize it's the transforming power of God in our lives that brings about reconciliation in our marriages, families, and churches. What will they see in your life that draws them to Christ? When you live for God, no one has to ask. When you live for God, you don't have to say a word. When you live for God, you never even have to explain. You just live. Your very life is the witness. It's not details of how short your skirt is. It's not if you wear shorts, or play sports, or drink or smoke, or cuss, or if you like things your grandparents do not. Following God isn't a rulebook of "dos" and "don'ts." I am not recommending that you abuse Grace, but it's not about your hair, your TV, your movies, your music, your makeup or your money. God will work on all of that, and God will convict you and lead you where He wants you to go. But you - your life - are what really and truly draw people.

Where are you today? Are you kind? Do you want kindness? Do you give kindness to others? Do you take time to think about the words you say, how they are perceived and how they'll be interpreted? Or do you carelessly let your actions and words hurt others? You cannot unthrow a stone. You cannot unsay words that have been said. You cannot unhurt people that have been hurt. Be kind, it's never the wrong answer.

Where are you today? Are you peaceful? Do you have peace in your life? Or are you drama-filled and in a constant state of reaction? Do you have time to proactively manage your life? Or are you continually reacting to people, situations, and events? Do you want peace?

You can have peace today. You can know peace in an instant. You can have peace faster than you've ever even dreamed. Regardless of your situation, your burden, or the consequences in life you will have to go through - you can have peace. Here's another verse of "It Is Well.." And this is one that applies to me. It gave me peace, even very recently:
"My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!"

I have peace today. I wasn't given partial peace. I will never earn it, nor will I ever take it for granted again. But hear me - I am peaceful because "not in part, but in whole." Whoever you are, wherever you've been, and whatever comes - I love you, right where you are.

#JustBeingMichael ツ

No comments:

Post a Comment