“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.”
2 Thessalonians 3:16 NLT
There are a couple things I keep coming back to in this well-loved benediction: first, there is a Lord of peace and the presupposition that we are peace-less. Peace does not exist inside of us, nor can we fabricate it. Second, this implies that we need to be given peace.
We would all like to think of ourselves as peaceful people, but on most mornings, our minds are a clutter of things to do and fears to keep at bay. Here believers in Christ are reassured that they can have peace in every situation, but do we really feel that way in light of an economic recession? In light of continued global strife? In light of our child’s weekend drinking? In light of our deadlines? In light of our most criminal thoughts and actions? Or even in light of this passage, which tells us we should feel peace?
We don’t have peace because we worry; we worry because we are afraid. We are afraid that we will be condemned. Whether it be the standards at work, a father’s expectations, the ideal weight, or the Ten Commandments, we are terrified of falling short. In his book Who Will Deliver Us?, Paul Zahl writes that “It is possible to deduce that the long chronicle of ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ has roots in an aggregate of personal imprisonments from fear that bind everyone who has ever been born”. Fear drives us to fight both against each other and against ourselves.
On the night of his betrayal, Jesus says to his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14: 27). Jesus speaks this to people who have good reason to fear. But Jesus has not come to condemn them or us, but to save us, to give us the very peace he has with God. Jesus comes and extinguishes our fear with God’s love for us. There is no sin he hasn’t forgiven. There is no fight he hasn’t overcome.
The Mockingbird Devotional: Good News for Today (and Every Day), November 20
“Miss You” by Stefan Van Voorst