by Chris Surber
In John 14:27 Jesus says, “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.” (ESV) The promise of peace is common in the Bible but it is rare in the lives of Christians. In fact, I’d say the opposite is true. We not only don’t have peace in our lives, but there is a veritable epidemic of anxiety among Christians.
Why don’t Christians have peace in this world?
Interestingly, and I’m speaking almost entirely from personal experience, persecuted Christians have a greater sense of peace than Christians in the west. From conversations with friends of mine who work with persecuted churches around the world, those Christians have a depth of presence of God that we seldom see among American Christians.
Very poor Christians in Haiti, where I minister and have many Christian friends, tend to have a kind of depth of faith in God I seldom see in America. As a Pastor I can attest to the frequency of counsel I provide for followers of Jesus who follow Him while wringing their hands, clenching their teeth, and pausing occasionally to take their anxiety and blood pressure medications. Something is very wrong.
I’m convinced that at least a part of the problem, and maybe even its foundation, is the reality that a significant part of our hearts’ affection has been stolen by Caesar. We have forfeited peace for political influence. We have traded a contended heart for angst over the next election. The world asked for the Church’s hand in marriage and we said, “Sure, as long as you’ll give me a place at the table of political influence.”
In my book, Rendering Unto Caesar, I wrote, “We decry society for taking Christ out of Christmas but we have removed Him from Christian discipleship. We condemn the immorality common in the world instead of living holy lives as a people apart from the world. We are filled with anxiety because we are filled every kind of care of this world. Caesar has taken something that is not his – our affections – and consequently, we are filled with anxiety.” (Page 36)
Today’s Conservative Christian spends more time in the voting booth than in the prayer closet. We lack peace because we are filled with concern over the world’s problems rather than the presence of the only one who solves problems.
John Wesley said it this way, “My soul, thou canst not be fully comforted, nor have perfect delight but in God, the comforter of the poor, and the helper of the humble. Wait a while, O my soul, wait the Divine promise, and thou shalt have abundance of all good things. Use temporal things, desire eternal.” (John Wesley, The Christian’s Pattern (Salem, OHIO: Schmul Publishers, 1975), 67.)
We will never have peace so long as we wrestle in this world with problems that will never cease, instead of resting in the One who has already given us eternal answers to our eternal problems.