Perfect Peace in Jesus

By Jim Allen

Do you ever listen to someone and hear only part of what they say? The person may be saying something really special but your mind is elsewhere. And then your spouse asks, "Are you listening?" Caught off guard by the tone and recognizing your relationship is about to change you say, "Sorry...would you please repeat what you were saying? I was distracted."

I've been there, on the edge. We've all been there. It happens more often than we dare admit. I suppose inattention is a common problem among people. In fact, listening is a skill. If not learned, problems are sure to follow. We can lose our peace. During my first year of marriage I learned about the importance of listening. But here's the thing. Listening intently to the right person is always important.

Listening to what people say is not always important. But we listen anyway. It's the gracious thing to do. I have a five-year old granddaughter who chatters away without a lack for words. She talks about everything the family would consider trivial. But you know what? What she has to say is important to her and for that reason alone important to us. We listen.

Though the disciples never talked about their families, they listened carefully to another who had a lot to say. No introduction needed here. What Jesus had to say was very important and everyone listened, always. When abiding in his presence there were no backslidden disciples. They were anchored in the harbor of peace.

Not too long ago a young man wrote to Got Questions, telling about his salvation experience. He was expecting God to change him, but after nearly two years of trying to live for Christ he backslid into the same old sins and lost his peace. This is a story we hear too often at Got Questions. This young man's faith was fragile and at the breaking point. So, what's going on here?

While reading through his story it became clear he prayed to receive Jesus but didn't appear to spend time in the Bible, at the feet of the Master. The apostles spent three years in constant fellowship with the Lamb of God. They heard great truths and witnessed untold miracles and wonders, many of which were never recorded (John 20:30). The disciples were amazed by how the Master moved among the people telling of wonderful things never heard before that time (Mark 12:30-31).

The disciples also saw Jesus interact one-on-one with the downtrodden. He performed miracles, spoke in parables, and foretold things to come. The crowds followed him. The children adored him. The Pharisees pondered him. The disciples believed him and anchored their souls to his every word. They abided with the Savior day and night, listening and thinking about all he had to say.

But when Rome crucified Jesus and his voice silenced, the disciples scattered in the night (Matthew 26:39). Their quandary was assured. They were like ships on a raging sea, adrift from their peaceful mooring. Did they forget what Jesus said about keeping their peace?

Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (Matthew 28:11-39). With verses of comfort and peace, I wrote back to the young man with some encouraging guidance. A portion of what I wrote follows:
Even those with great faith in God struggle on occasion. Every believer will at times doubt the reality of God and whether they are saved. To doubt does not mean you are lost. It means you are human and imperfect and undone, a disciple with much to learn. All of us need to gather around the feet of Jesus to learn and grow (2 Peter 3:18).

The apostles didn't understand things right away and neither will we. I know how you feel because doubt is a scary thing. It takes time to grow up in the faith. I've been there. We've all been there. And all of us are still growing.
Was this young man's faith crisis a result of not spending time in the Bible? Was the voice of Jesus silenced by worldly distraction? Was he adrift on the raging sea of life? Regardless, he was caught off guard. He was not listening to the most important person in his life. He was adrift. Like so many, he was distracted and drawn back to the world. By God's grace, he awoke to find himself wandering like the Prodigal, having a desire to return (Luke 15:17-20).

But then the Holy Spirit tapped me on the shoulder. "Not so fast," said the still small voice. "You've been distracted by the cares of the world too, but in a different way." After some self-examination I had to agree.

Of late, my focus on the presidential race and growing political corruption at every level of government was taking a toll on my peace. Listening to reports from the Middle East and the looming threats in Europe and America were equally disturbing. I was distracted by it all. I was sensing unease. Was there an answer?

Part of the answer is sometimes we just need to stop listening to the world's opinion about everything. Most of what they say is tainted with godless wisdom (Romans 1:21-23). The news media pretends to inform with news stories that do more to alarm than inform. They use fear to feed on a populace nervous about their faith, families, jobs, and country. The media's mantra to increase ratings is: If it bleeds, it leads.

Mindful of the same kind of repulsiveness in his day the Apostle Paul wrote, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).

In closing, I learned years ago that sitting at the feet of Jesus is a lifestyle choice. In time, the choice morphs into a longing desire to always abide in his presence, listening and learning and growing (2 Peter 3:18). I hope the young man who wrote for guidance will discover the wonder of doing the same.

Of the wonder to abide, God moved Isaiah to write about a promise available to everyone looking for peace. What he wrote resonates within the chambers of sincere hearts. God's promise is easy to remember and only one thought away: "The mind stayed on thee I will keep on perfect peace" (Isaiah 26:3).


Note 1: Though the Blogos articles are based on the Bible, they should never be a substitute for reading the Bible. "Without the Bible, we can't know anything for sure about God; we can't know about ourselves, we can't know about heaven or how to get there. We wouldn't know anything about Jesus. If the Word of God is not true, then there is no such thing as truth...All the troubles of the church...and most of the troubles of the world...are completely due to a departure from the authority of the Bible." (Source)

Note 2: This article is not suggesting the church should isolate itself from the world. We live here and our influence is important (Matthew 5:13). We should be involved in the political process to ensure our religious rights are properly represented and preserved. But, within the process there's a balance to keep. If we allow ourselves to be distracted (drawn away) by the cares and woes of the world, we can risk losing our peace.

Note 3: "Fear-based news stories prey on the anxieties we all have and then hold us hostage. Being glued to the television, reading the paper or surfing the Internet increases ratings and market shares — but it also raises the probability of depression relapse. In previous decades, the journalistic mission was to report the news as it actually happened, with fairness, balance, and integrity.

"However, capitalistic motives associated with journalism have forced much of today's television news to look to the spectacular, the stirring, and the controversial as news stories. It's no longer a race to break the story first or get the facts right. Instead, it's to acquire good ratings in order to get advertisers, so that profits soar." (Source)

Image Credit: skeeze; untitled; Creative Commons

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Published 4-12-16