Daily Devotion - Wednesday, December 9, 2015
This is the second week of the season of Advent. Throughout the season of Advent we'll be focusing on what it means to be full of expectation and anticipation during this blessed time of year. We'll also be lifting up the various weekly themes of Advent, corresponding to the lighting of the candles on the Advent wreath. This week our theme is "Peace."
"Peace is one of the most important human experiences. If you don't have peace, then you're not able to appreciate whatever else you do have." - Eckhart Tolle
Peace isn't happiness. Peace isn't the euphoria brought on by weariness, or induced by drugs. Peace isn't silence. Peace isn't the absence of conflict.
So many of us mistake peace for all of these things, but they are fleeting, and, in most cases, only shadows of peace, giving us the illusion of it without actually experiencing it. All of these things we mistake for peace could very well mask a decided lack of it by covering up what's really going on underneath the surface.
Believing that our illusions of peace are the real thing is kind of like breaking your arm, and then becoming convinced that it's not broken when the painkillers kick in and mask the pain. Can you imagine such a thing? "Wow! I mean I can see that my arm is going off in a funny direction near my elbow, but I can't feel a thing! Let's go play tennis!"
I believe that most of us walk around feeling absolutely shattered inside--like there's nothing but broken glass in our gut---and then we act as though nothing is wrong. We know at some level peace is eluding us, but we move from painkiller to painkiller to mask the symptoms.
True peace--the kind that Jesus talked about--comes both from within us and outside us. Jesus told his disciples in John 14:27: "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."
As Jesus-followers we have been given the gift of peace, the kind that is real and lasting. That gift comes from outside us, from Christ himself. But until we fully realize it, and allow Christ's gift of peace to rule inside all of our being--the effects of this gift can elude us.
People who let the peace of Christ flow over them, in them and through them are the kinds of people who are unaffected by the ebbs and flows of life. They come to understand that there is no substitute for the real thing. It doesn't matter what is happening all around them, their spirit is an island of tranquility.
The Apostle Paul mastered this, which is why he wrote: I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
What was Paul's solution? What was the source of his true, inner peace? In the next verse, he shares it: I can do all this through Christ, who gives me strength. Paul knew that the source of his true peace was Jesus, and because of Jesus, peace welled up inside of him and flowed out into every part of his life.
Most Christians struggle to fully realize the peace of Christ within them, and as a result their lives can become a constant struggle to find it. As Eckhart Tolle, the author of the Power of Now writes, "If you don't have peace, then you're not able to appreciate whatever else you do have."
During this blessed Advent season, may you be filled with the peace of Christ--the peace that defies understanding. May you feel that peace in every aspect of your life, in good times and in bad. May you let the peace of Christ flow out of you and into the world as a blessing. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, now and forever. Amen.