What does it mean to have the peace of Christ? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I’m really wrestling with this one right now, but while at the movies with a friend yesterday, to which we saw the Ten Rings movie which I thought was excellent, I was thinking about this. I have said I am on a journey as a fellow traveler walking through the pain of divorce and even if I am just one step ahead of a traveler on the journey, that’s one step I can help him through. It’s worth it.
Sometimes, I can have a hard time sleeping at night. I am very prone to anxiety. I often wonder if my marriage had anything to do with it. Imagine what goes through a person when they have to speed down the highway near their home because they think their wife could be killing themselves at any minute. Welcome to what was my world.
As an Aspie also, I have a constant fear as well of doing the wrong thing even in minor areas. Taking a risk can be very difficult for me. Yesterday, I also went to a psychiatrist and got put on the minimum dosage of an anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medication. I don’t want to say which because inevitably, someone will give me a horror story.
Sometimes when I get this anxious, I think of the story of Jesus on the boat calming the storms. Yes. We know. Jesus calms the storms in our lives. Isn’t that wonderful? Well, yes, but that’s not the point I think about when I think of this story.
I think that Jesus is asleep in the story.
That’s the part that really astounds me the most. It’s easy to understand how a man who is also fully God can stop a storm. Not a problem there. What blows my mind is that this guy could with a dozen men in a ship that is rocking and reeling from a storm and just sleeping. When He is woken up by His disciples, there is really no sense of urgency in His life. He seems puzzled that His disciples were ever panic-stricken to begin with.
In some ways, as I go through this, it’s making me look at Jesus through fresh eyes. You know how we can sometimes worry what other people think about us and wonder? You never see Jesus doing that. Jesus is the one person who never changes who He is to try to please the people around Him. Jesus is never in an identity crisis that we know of. Jesus knows who He is and He lives it out.
This means that what people thought of Jesus didn’t even bother Him that way. His identity was never based on it. Even when He is crucified, one can think that even if you don’t believe in the Gospels, it’s evident that the Jesus in the Gospels is in control the whole time.
Look at what happens when the crowds come to arrest Him. In John, Jesus speaks forcibly, the soldiers fall back, and He tells the people to take Him and let the others go. Jesus is being arrested and yet He is giving the orders and being the real threat. Now some could say this account is made up, but honestly, if someone made up this person, I want to know who this person is who made Him up. I find it hard to imagine someone like this. You can call that an argument from incredulity if you want, but it is something striking about Jesus.
This Jesus is never panicked about what’s going on in the world. He openly goes through an area where Caesar has power and tells the people that the Kingdom of God has come. Herod wants to kill Him? Well, go tell that old fox….
This is a guy who is a peasant talking about the king who can put Him to death and He refers to that king as an old fox.
There’s something amazing about that.
This Jesus doesn’t mince words. Want to know what He thinks of the Pharisees? He just comes right out and says it. It’s never “I didn’t want to tell you Pharisees this, but….” My favorite example of this is Luke 11. In it, Jesus is going after the Pharisees and the teachers of the law say “Excuse me, but do you realize you are insulting us when you say this?”
There is no indication Jesus turns apologetic. Quite the opposite. He turns and gives the teachers of the law the exact same treatment. You can picture those guys walking away at the end of this and one of them saying to the one who spoke up, “Nice going. You got Him on our case also.”
It really shows that Jesus is the most amazing figure more and more who ever lived.
And so what about His peace? We keep thinking often about the peace that Jesus can give us. I think before we think about that, we need to think about why Jesus had peace to begin with. The answer i come up with is He had total confidence that whatever happened, God was in charge. We know He knew some things about His destiny, but that doesn’t mean He had to know everything that was going to happen to Him as He walked this Earth. When Jesus asks the father of a boy with a demon in Mark 9 how long this has been going on, I don’t see any theological depth to the question. I think Jesus is just seeking information. Jesus had to learn and grow like the rest of us.
Yet no matter what happens, He is in charge. Even when He prays passionately in the garden out of sorrow, He is still in charge. He scolds His disciples and is not caught off-guard by the arrest. There is no begging for mercy from Him on the cross. At the same time, it’s not really pride we see in Him. It’s more just confidence. It’s His confidence in God.
Now here’s where it gets scary.
If I am to walk as Jesus walked, I am to have that much confidence in God too. Whatever happens, He is in charge of the story. If I was one of the Hebrew boys in Daniel, could I say “Our God is able to save us from the furnace you have, BUT EVEN IF HE DOESN’T, we will not bow to your idol.” Think about that. They had no certainty. They had no guarantee. They could have died that day and they didn’t even have a promise of resurrection! I would like to say I’d have that courage as well, but I can’t guarantee that I would.
For me, this is all about getting a better picture of who Jesus is. We can talk about Him with His love for us, but usually when we think about Jesus, it’s about what He does for us. We never think about what He did for Himself or how He managed His own life, but we should. We talk about how Jesus helps us in sadness, but never how He dealt with His own. We also talk about how Jesus gives us peace, but perhaps we should do the same with that. We should ask how Jesus had peace first and go beyond the pat “He’s God” answer. It’s true, but if we follow that consistently, we are left with no reason to emulate His life since we know we can’t do it for that reason. No. In His humanity, we are to fully emulate Him.
Am I good at this yet? No. Not really. I still stress out and have to call my friends. I still worry about pleasing other people at times. I still panic about doing the wrong thing. I still have a hard time being confident that God is in charge of the story.
But you know, knowing is half the battle. I should at least give thanks that I know these things so I know what to work on. It is better to know my faults and that I need to work on them than to go in the world believing a myth that I am a pretty good guy doing alright.
I hope you will join me on this journey, fellow travelers. In some ways, it’s actually fun to see Jesus in this new light.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)