Finding Strength in Jesus' Superior Peace
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
To a world drowning in COVID-19 panic, the subject of cheese spreads might not seem immediately relevant, but hear me out. For nearly every food product (except eggnog, but that’s another story) you will usually find me opting for whatever “econo-brand” happens to be available. Every food product that is—except cream cheese. As it concerns cheese spreads, for me there is only Philadelphia, radiant in a class by herself.
I bring this up to illustrate that even among everyday items, there are degrees of quality beneath the canopy of kind. This principle is important because Jesus, in John 14:27, not only offers His disciples “peace,” but a specific kind of peace; namely, HIS peace. This, apparently, in opposition to peace “as the world gives.” But what kind of peace does the world give? And why is Jesus’ peace so superior to it?
The World’s Peace is Only as Useful as our Circumstances are Stable
What would you say to a mosquito repellent that was only effective when no mosquitos were around? What would you say to any product that only “worked” when it wasn't needed? You would, rightly, call them useless. But that is exactly and only the kind of peace the world can offer us; the kind that only holds up when the seas of life are calm. What we need, however, is a peace that will sustain us in the midst of life's trouble; indeed, it is exactly such moments that are so useful for distinguishing the genuine from the imposter.
But where to find such a peace?
The good news is that in Christ, we don't have to find it, we only need to take hold of it. Furthermore, "we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him” (Romans 6:9). This means His claim to the title "Prince of Peace" has been substantiated. It also means that Jesus—serene, joyful, and at perfect and uninterrupted peace within the Godhead—isn't just trying to make us feel better when he says that our hearts shouldn’t be troubled our afraid. He faced, and conquered, the worst that wrath could throw.
To Accept the World's Peace Instead of Jesus' is a Miserable Exchange
Would you trade in gold for gravel? Would you exchange a holiday on the beach for a trip to Walmart? Would you choose a baggie full of spam over a supper of prime rib? I hope your answer to each of those was a resounding “no.” That's because even common sense teaches that we should forfeit the lesser in order to receive the greater. So why is it that we allow such a compromise when something far greater is at stake? Why settle for the world’s peace in exchange for Jesus’ greater?
Perhaps it’s because the world's peace costs only our acquiescence. Such a trade might sound, in the short term, worthwhile. But not only is such peace a weak and beggarly thing, we are told that embracing it will actually exclude from God’s kingdom: “Friendship with the world is enmity with God.” After careful deliberation, we may decide that we can afford to overlook certain enemies; perhaps because they're weak, dumb, or slow. But you don't want God as an enemy.
God’s peace, on the other hand, may initially seem more costly. For Him, it required no less than the incomprehensible payment of His Son; a payment Christ gladly bore. The cost for us? A heart broken by sin, the relinquishment of self-love, and the abandonment of the world’s applause. His peace, too, reaches far deeper. It stretches below mountains, oceans, and valleys. It goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell. It isn’t extinguished by rough weather—in fact some would say its qualities shine brightest the darker the way gets. It can endure our slights and sins; our midnight tossings and anxious bread-eatings.
In sum, our greatest need in the midst of these times is not to get back to “normal life” but to be reminded that our normal life should always be one of steady reliance on a hard-won and weighty peace.
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