Saturday, October 9, 2010

Deceptive Peace

“It must have been the right thing to do because I feel such peace.”

In a world guided by subjective emotions, objective truth is easily discarded. The guiding principals are gems such as, “Follow your heart” or “If it feels good, do it.” The conclusion, “It can’t be wrong because it feels so right.”

A basic definition of peace is a state of tranquility without disturbance or agitation. So I guess if you are in a coma, we might describe you as peaceful but most outside observers wouldn’t think all is well.

How about the calm before the storm? Maybe the peace someone feels is a brief, deceptive moment before the coming consequences.

I think using peace as a judge of good or bad decision making is very dangerous. As Christians, we speak of the peace from God as a good thing. Philippians 4:6-7 has this to say, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” I don’t see peace here as a sign of good decision making but as a result of prayer. When I pray for my prodigal children instead of worrying about them I receive peace from God. That peace lets me rest in the knowledge that God loves them and is working in them. Even with that peace I still have an unsure turmoil in wondering what part I played in their messed-up lives.

Probably the strongest argument for peace in decision making is this: “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)  Rule in this verse means to arbitrate or to act as an umpire. An arbitrator or umpire has to act according to the rules. So the same here; the rules are the Word of God. That’s where everything has to start and end.

It’s good we have Scripture to guide us because we are reminded in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Without external objective guidance our internal compass gets out of calibration.

We also need other people to help guide us. Good friends can give perspective; they can see what may be unclear to us. We may be wrapped up in emotion and they bring clarity. Of course, the wrong voices can be destructive. If their lives are not guided by God’s Word then it may be the blind leading the blind. I heard an alcoholic talking about this recently. He realized that his friends were not going to help him out of his bondage; they didn’t see a problem. He recognized that he was going to need new friends before he was going to be successful with recovery.

Sometimes, the opposite of peace may be present when we are doing the right thing. Paul realized this in Acts 20:22-23 where he said, “And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me.” Of course there was a peace but not the way we may look at it. If Paul wanted to avoid hardship he could have said, “I just don’t feel a peace about going.”

So what it all comes down to is if God’s Word says something then our feelings don’t matter. If we are disobedient then the peace we feel may be God’s absence or maybe the calm before the storm He is about to unleash.

Philip

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