“Working For Peace”
(Psalm 67, Acts 16:9-15, John 14:23-29)
Today we have recognized people connected to our church family who will soon be graduating from either high school or college. In order to reach this milestone in their lives, at some point each person set graduation as a goal, then worked to achieve that goal. It’s not as if these graduates set the goal then just sat around waiting for it to happen.
Ever seen those commercials that promote some kind of exercise or food fad that is guaranteed to help you shape up and lose weight “the easy way?” These products actually sell, because people want to take the easy way out; they don’t want to commit to working toward their goal.
In today’s passage from John, Jesus offers the gift of peace (peace I leave to you, my peace I give to you.) Peace from Jesus? Sign me up; I’ll take some of that! It is natural to desire this gift of peace, but we will not receive it if we think it is simply going to just show-up one day. No, as is the case with most things worth having, peace is something that requires some work by the recipient to make it happen. Here’s another way to look at it; think of a place where you experience peace. Perhaps it’s at a spot alongside the ocean somewhere. In order to experience that peace, a journey to that spot must happen-you can’t get there by just wishing it were so.
In each of our scripture passages, we find people not sitting around, but working to achieve a goal. In the psalm, we find someone asking for a blessing from the Lord, so that inspired, they may make the Lord known to many nations. Making the Lord known to many nations will require much more than wishing it to happen; instead, the psalmist will be on the move, working to make this happen.
From Acts the apostle Paul had a vision and is instructed to travel to places like Macedonia and Philippi. In this passage Paul is encouraged to take the gospel to both Jew and Gentile alike, which was unusual since up until Jesus, the covenant was thought to be only for God’s “chosen people” (Jews.) Taking the gospel to people in both Jewish and Gentile territories would not happen by Paul simply wishing it to happen; no-Paul and the others had to work to make it happen.
I suggest to you the same may be said for this wonderful peace Jesus has to offer. I certainly believe that God can intervene in dramatic ways without our help while bring the gift of peace to us. However, I believe that most of the time the peace Jesus offers is most fully realized when we work to make it part of our lives. And how does that happen? It happens when we spend time with Jesus in prayer, in the scriptures, inspired by music, and through fellowship. Usually, the peace Jesus offers isn’t simply delivered to our doorstep without any effort on our part.
And so this morning, if you want to receive this peace Jesus offers to us, I encourage you to actively pursue it through the means mentioned above. It is a precious gift, one well worth working toward.