Not as the world gives

John 14.27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give peace to you.’

What did Jesus mean by the peace the world gives? There are short and long answers to this question that go to the heart of the conversion experience to Christianity. By the “world” Jesus is meaning all those who do not believe and trust in him, those who have other gods they worship, whether or not they are termed gods by those who have placed them on the throne of their lives. In Jesus’ time many of the Jewish leaders said and thought they believed in Yahweh and had him on the throne of their lives but in reality did not. This is evidenced by their own behaviour and response to Jesus where they plotted and eventually did have Jesus killed. On the throne of their lives was their own status, their self-interest, their love of rules without the spirit of the rule. Pharisees added to the law of God excluding others from faith, placing religious ritual where love of the Lord and love of others should have been in their hearts. The Jewish leaders’ faith at that time was racist, looking down on all other people groups and believing that they were condemned by God simply by their birth as we see in their attitude to their immediate neighbours the Samaritans. This went against God’s purposes for the Israelites to be a light to the world revealing the Lord to them.

The Roman world was a world where multiple gods were worshiped, each deity was considered to have specific limited control over aspects of human life. People were free to choose the deities they worshiped. This seems a long way from modern western civilization dominated by materialism. Jesus’ teaching did address the modern world because he addressed the issue of the human heart. For many peace comes from financial security with the belief that the more wealth one has the greater the peace and the more one can relax and enjoy life. The parable of the rich fool Luke 12.13-21 warns against a reliance on material wealth. For others in modern life peace is pursued through a range of what the bible terms sins. However, Jesus’ challenge goes deeper than overt sin, his challenge is to whatever is placed on the throne of our heart that is not the love of God. Even though there is nothing wrong in themselves with many of these things. The peace Jesus gives is not a peace limited by circumstances.

There is nothing wrong with having a pension and financial security in one’s old age, or enjoying the love of one’s family, these are good and sensible things. Grieving for the loss of loved and good people and circumstances is normal and healthy. Jesus himself grieved over the loss of people he lost and was about to enter a period of mental and spiritual agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. Our peace comes from who and what is ultimately on the throne of our hearts.

Jesus calls his disciples to have the same life attitudes as he has. He summed this up with his words,

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.’ Luke9.23-24

Who or what is on the throne of our life?

Before the throne of God Above

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