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God’s Perfect Peace

• Greg Boyd

At Christmas time, we announce the coming of the Prince of Peace. Yet we look around at our world and peace appears to be the last thing that describes our situation. What does Christ’s peace look like in the midst of the tumult and chaos that we experience on a daily basis?

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This is the first sermon in a Christmas series entitled “Christmas Lights” where we explore how God brings light in a dark world. This sermon addresses how peace overcomes chaos in our lives.

In Isaiah, we read how God will send a Messiah, one who would be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. This is a human child, who is also a mighty God, the one Matthew calls Emmanuel, which means God with us. The one who is fully human and fully God comes to offer peace to a world that has none.

Paul says in Colossians 1:19-20 that Jesus makes peace through the blood of the cross. The self-sacrificial love he displays brings peace to everything, thus redeeming all things into his plan and incorporating good and evil into a harmonious whole. The full revelation of peace will be known at the end of times, when we see how he takes up all circumstances and redeems them, working them together for good (Romans 8:28). And thus the suffering of the present time is not worth comparing to the glory that will come in the future (Romans 8:18). All will end well even though the circumstances in the present moment do not seem to point in that direction.

Yet now, before the end has fully come, we must ask: where is this peace? The realities of daily life seem to say that there is no peace. The same was true when Jesus was born. He entered into a time that was tremendously turbulent. The Prince of Peace is born into this tense, chaotic, and sometimes violent situation. People expected the Messiah to come and make all things right, assuming that he would get the Romans off their back and establish justice. Yet, Jesus did not come and change all of their circumstances. In fact, in some ways, he initially seems to make matters worse because his birth actually created more chaos for those involved. The Christmas story was actually full of turbulence and chaos.

When God comes into our fallen world, He doesn’t send forth escorts to clean up the world to make sure that this Prince of Peace gets the red carpet treatment.  Jesus began his life the same way he ended his life: by diving head first into our sin, our violence and our chaos. Jesus came into our world as Prince of Peace not by creating an oasis of peace away from life’s chaos but by setting up shop in the heart of our chaos. He does not change things by decreeing or forcing peace, but changing all things from the inside through self-sacrificial love.

This means that we must learn to look for the Mighty God and the Prince of Peace in the midst of the chaos. God is Emmanuel, God with us, always in the depths of our troubled times. In the midst of the turbulence we can find peace. We read about this in two passages in John:

In John 14:27, Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” In John 16:32-33, Jesus tells his disciples, “The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have said this to you so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution, but take courage: I have conquered the world.”

From the words of Jesus regarding his peace, we can take three things. First, in this world we will have trials. We live in a cosmic war zone where we will face difficulties. We should not be surprised by this fact. Secondly, Jesus says that he gives his peace to us. This is the peace of God. One emotion that is never ascribed to God in the Bible is that of worry because God is at peace at all times. God knows how he will accomplish his plans and is confident that the future glory will be fully realized. Therefore, there is no reason for God to worry. This is the kind of unshakable peace that God offers us. Third, the kind of peace that God offers is not the kind of peace that the world gives, the kind that depends on circumstances. It is the kind of peace that depends on God, the kind that passes all understanding and will guard our hearts (Phil 4:6-8).

No matter what you are facing at this point in life, God is not surprised by it. He is present in the midst of your reality and offers you a kind of peace that does not make sense to the ways of the world. We can meet with God in the middle of it all, receive his gift of peace and watch him bring good out of chaotic circumstances.

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Topics: God's Will, Presence of God, Salvation

Sermon Series: Christmas Lights

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The MuseCast: December 6

Focus Scripture:

  • Matthew 1:23

    Look, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”

  • Isaiah 9:6

    For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders, and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Great will be his authority, and there shall be endless peace.

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One thought on “God’s Perfect Peace

  1. Jerry says:

    Thank you Greg just loved all the scripture verses.

    This one especially caught my attention.

    John 16:33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have OVERCOME the world.

    The kingdoms of this world do not have the capacity to bless or bring peace to, the world but only to rule it with lots of turmoil. Jesus did not come to assume command of a network of failed kingdoms but to bless it by giving his life for it so as to demonstrate the way forward with a new others-first kingdom.

    Overcome – in Greek nenikeka – be victorious, perfect tense already accomplished fact with continuing results.

    Hebrews 6:19 we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.

    Greg mentions his yoga practice. From LA Fitness: yoga is about how connected to your breath you are as you connect; finding rest for your soul.

    How does that work?

    From Greg and Al’s course Theo-synergistic Neuro-Transformation.

    Our internal representation, intrapersonal reality, is but a [sensory VAKOG loaded map] deleted, distorted, generalized, and organized into chunks of meaning determined by the beliefs so far installed. It is NOT absolute reality, the territory, but a soul-driven map perception thereof. This subconscious mind of stored procedures acts on data, robotically, like a machine, up to 1/3000th of a second. The conscious mind that builds these procedures operates, and acts on data, at 1/30th of a second.

    So of the 60,000 to 70,000 thoughts, you think in a day 90% are, stored procedures, the same ones you had the day before making you a creature of habit. Considering the same thoughts as yesterday you make the same choices today. Those same choices today are leading to the same behaviors tomorrow. The same habitual behaviors tomorrow are producing the same experiences in the future. The same events in your future reality are creating the same predictable emotions for you all the time. The result, you feel the same every day. Your yesterday becomes your tomorrow, so your past is your future creating your personal reality of how you think, act, and feel.

    So is your soul weary, burdened, and heaven laden or is it at rest?

    Your brain works in amassing ways to sort through all the sensory data stored in your body.

    Listen to the noise, all the colors, observe the light, the pressures on your body. All of it bombarding your brain for attention. God created an awesome human design engineering you in a way that allows you to delete any non-essential superfluous information. Your brain is bombarded by billions of bits of information every second but you can only consciously attend to only 5 to 9 chunks of data per second. A part of the brain, the reticular activating system, deletes 98% of the information determined unnecessary or unimportant at the moment. What determines what’s important at any given moment is the state of your soul.

    Now notice the air, you breathe, coming into your nose. You weren’t noticing the air coming into your brain a moment ago. In order to notice the air coming into your nose you needed to shift your attention. You needed to delete one of the original 5 to 9 chunks of information you were consciously attending to before the brain could attend to the air coming in through your nose. Now notice the air as you breathe it out of your mouth. Again, you must delete another one of the 5 to 9 chunks of data to attend to your outward breath.

    In his last two sermons, Greg does an exercise with us to demonstrate how to live consciously in every moment. Of the 5 to 9 chunks of information, you are consciously attending to at any moment you need to replace any that are works of the flesh with ones that are the fruit of the spirit. Concerning any moment Galatians 5:19-21 state your current stored procedures may land you in; you need to create a new Galatians 5:22-26 procedure that will replace the old ones should this situation reoccur again.

    As Greg says you need to work on this while you are still on the road for it will only be more difficult to deal with later. Matthew 5:25

    If the arrival of Jesus is a blessing to the world shouldn’t the followers of Jesus likewise be a blessing?

    If Jesus is the light of the world shouldn’t the collective presence of his believers make it brighter?

    You can reframe what you can’t control so what is your hope set on?

    1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.

    You are never alone, you are deeply loved and Jesus always [nenikeka] wins.

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