The above definition is from the Merriam-Webster Online dictionary. What I’m interested in today, though, is the biblical definition of peace.
I did a partial word-study on peace yesterday and found some things that I was expecting to find, those things that I remembered from previous study, the kind of feel good notions about this word:
I also, however, turned up some words of God that are less conducive to the always-inspirational Pinterest:
This verse was very uncomfortable to read, having just come out of my happy thoughts about how God gives peace. It’s scary, really, especially when you read the immediately following verses, 35-39.
Matthew 10 begins with the complete list of the 12 disciples Jesus called to Himself for His earthly ministry. He then sends these 12 out to proclaim the news of the kingdom of heaven with “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
The chapter thereafter is Jesus briefing the disciples on their mission, and us in ours.
This chapter, which contains can potentially affront our notions about Jesus’ role and purpose in this world, also contains some incredible words of comfort. In this same chapter where Jesus decries the idea that He will bring peace on this world at this time, also tells His chosen followers not to be afraid and gives two different precautions against anxiety.
“19 When [unbelieving Israelites and Gentiles] deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
This exhortation to have peace comes in the middle of a promise that this world will give followers of Christ no peace.
The second time Jesus commands a lack of fear is fairly famous. Perhaps you recognize these words:
“29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
Now these verses do make for some inspirational art.
As you can see, significant parts of the passage are taken out and even written over to spare us the discomfort of these verses that precede:
“26 So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.“
While Jesus’ word choice is disconcerting (I mean, you probably don’t hear too many talking about hell in the 21st century), I think the famed sparrow verses can only be comforting within their entire context.
I began by listing a few verses of obvious comfort. Our God is indeed the source of peace. But, as Jesus says in John 14:27 (see above), his peace is not ordinary. Jesus’ peace is the comfort of knowing that He has saved both the body and soul from hell.
Jesus loves us too much to give us trite feel-good sayings. He knows that the only way to have peace is by following Him, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Sometimes, that doesn’t look how we want it to, but we can trust that Jesus is calling us to something greater than whatever peace this world can give, His peace, which comes through living out His kingdom here and telling it to others who may rejoice in the knowledge, yes, but very likely will often spurn and reject it (Matthew 10:24-25).
“It is not a Jesus of our invention that we are called to follow and trust.” Alistair Begg