Peace is a Warrior

Some think of peace like the serene waters of a lake. Gentleness they ache to achieve within. Still others think of peace as harmony, their circumstances at rest. A sense of balance they strive for.

peace

How often do we fall into the worldly pursuit of peace? The peace of the world leaves us thirsty, empty, and seeking for more. It’s a peace that never satisfies.

Jesus promised a lasting peace–not as the world gives. But what does this mean? When my child is throwing-up, when my husband is depressed, when my job is frustrating, when a loved one receives a bad diagnosis, when terrorism strikes again….

What is this PEACE, really?

Peace is a Warrior

 

So what is PEACE, really? It’s of God. Not this world. Not our striving. Not even our understanding. Because this peace goes beyond what our minds can process. The peace God gives doesn’t always make sense to us. And that’s okay. You don’t need to understand it to know it.

The peace of God guards. It defends us. Strengthens us. It’s a warrior when anxiety attacks, stress mounts, and darkness smothers. This is no gentle peace. Contrary to our image of peace, it is not always cuddly and tame. The peace of God fights for us. Fights to keep from our minds and hearts the deceptions of this world, the lies that say “your life is falling apart. You’ve failed. There’s nothing you can do.”

And finally, the peace of God is in Christ Jesus. Not in meditation or yoga. Not in academic pursuit. Not in service or success.

In. Christ. Jesus.

Are you looking for peace today? Feeling abandoned by God?

Look no more. The peace of God in Christ Jesus says to your heart, “I have you. I won’t let go.”

You can trust that voice, even when you don’t understand it.

Jesus Cleanses the Temple, Part 2

“Then the Jews demanded of him, ‘What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.’ The Jews replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?’ But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.” John 2:18-22

“By what authority do you do this?”

Have you asked this of the Lord?

Note what Jesus does not say. He doesn’t say, “By God’s authority.” Or even, “By my Father’s authority.” He doesn’t say, “I made the world.” He doesn’t list off a string of credentials.

Jesus says, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

What?! “It’s taken us forty-six years to build this and you’re going to do it in three days?”

Of course, the leaders misunderstood. They think Jesus is referring to the brick and mortar building. No. The fullness of God’s presence dwells in Jesus, and He is the true temple, the true embodiment of God.

The authority by which Jesus can come into the temple and brandish a whip derives from his conquering of death, his power over the most profound effect of sin. He earned the authority through his position as sacrificial lamb.

Bottom line, the authority is his by nature of who He is and what He does.

So the foundational question, then, is: have you bowed to his authority? We cannot accept Christ as savior, without positioning him as Lord. Without Christ as Lord, we have only religion–like the Pharisees who challenged Jesus’ authority–not relationship. It’s the bowing of the knee that opens the heart for intimacy with Christ.

Philippians 2

 

Jesus Cleanses the Temple, Part 1

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

John 2:13-17

John 2 How Dare

An angry Jesus is not an image we’re comfortable with. The world sees this passage and cringes. “See?” They say. “Jesus is just another angry prophet out to get those against him.” Even for Christians, the picture of Jesus with a whip and roar is a little scary. We like the hurting Jesus, one who weeps over Jerusalem or looks on a sinner with compassion. Those images we can handle.

But it is the image of an angry Jesus which drives home to us the magnitude of sin’s disruption in our world and our need for deliverance. It’s the anger of Jesus that proves He’s the Rescuer.

Consider, this passage takes place during Passover. As Christians, we romanticize the deliverance of Egypt, emphasizing the saving of Israel and the miracle of the Red Sea parting. But Passover was an experience of judgment, too. God was judging Pharoah and Egypt for failing to obey the command to let Israel go free. Plague after plague had not convinced Egypt to honor Yahweh, and so one final plague was announced to Moses. The Angel of Death would slay the firstborn son of every household—unless the blood of the Passover lamb was smeared above the doorway.

The beautiful deliverance of Passover has a price: the blood of a lamb.

When Jesus enters the temple expecting to see reverent worship, but instead sees a selfish display of consumerism, He responds as Passover Judge. The temple had been turned into a marketplace, a place of personal gain. How ironic that on the festival that celebrates freedom, vendors were selling and making money off worshippers, as if salvation could be earned. Such an affront on grace could not be tolerated by Jesus, the lamb that buys our freedom.

Jesus’ display of anger reinforces to us that sin has consequences. It warns us to take seriously his sacrifice. It pairs for us the Passover meanings of Judgment and Deliverance.

And it leads us to ask hard questions:

How have we turned the Father’s House into something other than what He has intended?

Have we used God’s sacrifice for our personal gain?

Have we lost our zeal for true worship?

What have Christians turned the institution of church into and how has this affected the watching world?

May you find comfort that because sin has been judged, your deliverance has been gained. May you also find strength to honor the call to worship in Spirit and truth.