Peace, Angst, and the American Way

The early Superman comics said that he stood for, “Truth, justice, and the American way.” I think that we could say that today we might stand for peace, angst and the American way. We say we want peace. Yet we choose angst.

Angst is so common. We have angst over relationships. We have angst over job situations. We have angst over the future. We have angst over help. Sometimes, I think that we want an IV drip of angst just so we don’t have to leave it behind. So, when Jesus says that He gives peace it is a mystery to us what that feels like.

Philippians 4:1 Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. 2 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. 3  Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Yet, Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27) Our God is called the God of all peace. We are told in Isaiah (a common Christmas passage) that the increase of our King’s control and peace will never end. So, God cares a lot about peace.

Now, do we? This is the tough part of God’s teaching about peace. We pray for peace. We long for peace. We have peace rallies. Yet, do we undermine peace in how we live?

Let me give you some examples of how we undermine peace daily:

1 – We don’t love our enemies, we seek to defeat them. Jesus tells us that we can find great personal victory (peace!) when we let go of our anger or bitterness and chose kindness instead. Do we do it?

2 – We use karma (what goes around comes around) instead of grace (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) as our definition of justice. Jesus declares that things like vengeance and harsh words turn us into something that we wouldn’t want to know. Can’t we let Him fight for us?

3 – We don’t receive the forgiveness that Jesus has already paid for. This type of peace is internal: forgiving yourself. How many times do we act out of guilt or embarrassment instead of love? God has told us that we are forgiven, and He loves us. Do we believe it or not?

Which type of peace will you seek today? Will you seek the peace that Jesus has bought for your heart and for God? Will you live in grace with those around you? Will you love your enemies? When we don’t, we find that the self-punishment and petty victories are not as satisfying as we want. We discover over time that what we really want is peace instead of hollow victories. What will you seek today?

Something to think about,

Pastor John

If you want to seek peace with others… study and apply Romans 12:9-21

If you want a reminder of God’s love and grace toward you… study and rejoice in Romans 5:1-2

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