Be Not Afraid Wk 2: Love and Peace

Be Not Afraid Wk 2: Love and Peace

Be Not Afraid Week: Love and Peace

Jesus is talking about both love and peace this week. So what is more important, peace or love, and which comes first, love or peace?

Once you are at peace with yourself, you can enjoy love more vibrantly, and develop healthier relationships. Love is beautiful and important, but when things don’t go as planned, your inner peace will never fail to catch you when you fall. That is why peace is more important than love.

Inner peace is an absence of fear which calms our mind and heart and allows us to see our path much clearer, helping us focus and remain calm in the face of even great difficulty.

Inner peace is a compass that points to truth and leads you there, trusting that all obstacles are worthy challenges rather than intimidating threats.

This is a very specific kind of peace. As we continue for the second week to unpack our four part message series, “Be not Afraid”, let’s take a deep dive into love and peace.

Sometimes, in a relationship, we may say I want to be her peace, or I want to be his peace. I want to be a calming force for him or her and provide her or him with an escape from the harsh realities of this world. Here is the truth though. You can not be peace or love for someone else until you yourself are peace and love. To be peace for someone, or to be love for someone, you must at first be in

right-relationship with yourself, which is inherent only when you are in right-relationship with the Lord.

If you want to create more peace in your relationships, it starts with your relationship with God and thus your relationship in how you perceive yourself. The word shalom we often translate as peace; however, shalom is right-relationship, and peace is the result of right-relationship.

Shalom denotes a right-relationship with God, with others, and with God’s good creation. It is the way God intended things to be when he created the universe. This was God’s original design for his creation, not that we live in fear, scarcity, poverty, or in minimalist conditions.

Deep inner peace always starts with your relationship with God. Your relationship with God determines how you relate to yourself which determines how you will relate to the world and others. If you’re at peace with God, and love God as he loves you, you will be at peace with self, have proper love for self as a daughter or son of God and will be at peace with others as you will see them too as a son or daughter of God. Right relationship is where it all starts.

Call to mind the gospel we had a few weeks ago when Jesus walked into the upper room after the resurrection, and he sees the disciples there who had abandoned him when he was arrested and crucified. The first words he says are peace be with you. In other words, I have come for

right-relationship with you. He tells them again today in the gospel, that he has come to give a special kind of peace, not the peace of the world, but his peace of right-relationship. And he says because of that right-relationship our hearts should not be troubled or afraid, ever.

Some people actually think relationships are not important; however, human beings are defined by their relationships more than anything else. Relationships tell us who we are, WHOSE we are, and what is expected of us. Our relationships define where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going.

The relationship of your dreams, where there’s authentic connection and you feel loved, accepted, and honored just as you are, is completely possible when you realize it starts with God and you. When all is said and done, the only relationship that defines who we genuinely are is our right-relationship with God.

The bible tells us we are the only creature made “in God’s image.” It might be hard to fathom, but you are God’s masterpiece. It is not arrogance to say humans, created in God’s image, are, therefore, the only thing in this world with inherent value. We’re the only creation Jesus was willing to die for. We’re the only creation in this world with whom God wants a relationship. We are special. Being made in God’s image can’t be taken away because someone deems you unworthy.

It can’t be taken away because someone treats you with prejudice or a lack of decency. Your worth is not defined by them. Your worth is defined by God, and he says you’re special. You are worth all the effort it took to make this world. You are worth the sacrifice of his Son. You are worth every event that has shaped God’s will since the beginning of time. You are valuable because God says so.

That right-relationship, that value, defines you above everything else.

However, our relationship with God has to be defined on his terms, because he has ownership of our past, present and future. God is faithful to forgive a genuine heart, guide a willing servant, and uphold the promises he makes to those who faithfully endure. We can trust in the one who does not change, cannot lie, whose “mercy is everlasting” and whose “truth endures to all generations.” (Psalm 100:5).

Without any hesitation, our relationship with God should define how we perceive those who God brings into our lives. We should see the rest of the world as God does. The people we run across in every circumstance are also made in his image. They are also God’s masterpiece.

When we realize that everyone else can connect to God in the same deeply meaningful way we do, our appreciation for their soul, and its well-being, should encourage a right-relationship that is significant, selfless, and sacrificial. A relationship defined by mutual appreciation of the One who made us is a right-relationship that will endure. In those instances, it will be a relationship devoid of all the stuff that makes our world unbearable and the people we run across insufferable.

Notice also Jesus says to be in right-relationship, that is to experience inner peace and inner love in the best sense, we must keep his words. That is, we must do the things he tells us to do. He comments elsewhere in the gospels, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord but not do the things I tell you.”

If we give ourselves to him, and follow his way, we will experience shalom in the deepest possible way. We call Jesus the Prince of Peace. More accurately he is the prince of shalom, the prince and teacher of right-relationship. Shalom informs your actions, and your relationships, and thereby informs the way you live your life.

We are not talking about superficial peace and love. This is deep inner peace. Without which, you will never experience true love or true peace.

Those are all the things we want you to know today, this is what we would like for you to do.

Ask God to help you identify a place of unrest in your life, a lack of peace, and help you to see that unrest as a lack of right-relationship with your Creator.

If this lack of peace involves a person, ask God to help you see that person as God sees them, his son or daughter who is also trying to find their way in life. Loving that person as a daughter or son of God can help you find that peace.

If for some reason you are afraid to have a relationship with God, ask the Holy Spirit to give you the grace to see God as your Good Father, and Comforter, in this world broken by sin and fear. Be not afraid.

Shalom. May you be in right-relationship, and as a consequence, be not afraid.