When was the last time you described your environment as peaceful? In a world filled with conflict, corruption, and chaos, we find little that offers peace to counteract it. Jesus’ words as he was coming to a close of His earthly ministry were “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” (John 14:27). In the book Acts of the Apostles, we find interesting insight to Christ’s words.
“This peace is not the peace that comes through conformity to the world. Christ never purchased peace by compromise with evil. The peace that Christ left His disciples is internal rather than external and was ever to remain with His witnesses through strife and contention.”Acts of the Apostles, p.84
There’s a simple, yet often misunderstood key about Christ’s peace: it’s location. It’s an internal peace, not an external one. It’s given with the understanding that we know, as a follower of Jesus, that we will encounter hardships and trials. In Matthew 10:34 Jesus says “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Internal peace. External division. That’s what the Bible says that Jesus came to earth to do. To bring a sword. To cause division. Reading on after the quote referenced above, it says this:
“The Prince of Peace, He was yet the cause of division. He who came to proclaim glad tidings and to create hope and joy in the hearts of the children of men, opened a controversy that burns deep and arouses intense passion in the human heart.”Acts of the Apostles, p.84
John 16:33 shares “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Internal peace. External controversy.
Controversy, caused in many cases because God called us to share truth. And, just as Jesus faced when He preached truth, we will be faced with difficulties and persecution because the truth God gives is seen externally by people as more sword-like than peace-filled. So they react. In Jesus’ day, their reaction was to crucify the Son of God. What Jesus is calling us to is an internal peace in the face of external trouble. Too often, we want peace inside and outside.
External trials in our life (and for Jesus) took place because people have a choice. They can choose how they want to react to truth. Too often, people get angry and attack because of how truth is presented, but I’m not talking about error in the presentation of truth. We are talking about people reacting to truth when presented correctly. If we ask (and desire) to be fully like Jesus, we can expect to share in His peace and his pain.
The Bible tells us that Jesus stood up and defied the popular thinking of the day, and he made people mad. That’s not to say by any means that the measure of success for your life as a Christian (or your ministry if you’re paid to work for God) is how many people you can make mad. However, if you’re living out God’s Word in your life, someone, somewhere, at some point is not going to give you warm fuzzies as a response. Remember the statement in Matthew 10:34? Jesus came to send a sword. To cause people to examine their lives and take a stand for the right. If we are seeking to reflect the character of Christ in our lives, we surely won’t be backing down from an opportunity to share truth with our world. Even truth that sends a sword. After all, because “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,” did heaven seek to send peace?
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34