Summary: Jesus' answer to your fears is the presence of the triune God in your life -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
I always like to go on record as saying, “I don’t believe in luck; I believe in providence.” And, as it turns out, by God’s providence, I have been very lucky in love! I am married to the woman of my dreams, the heart of my heart, and the love of my life. Jan is beautiful in body and soul. She is smart – a lot smarter than I am – clever, witty, creative, and fun. I am the luckiest man in the world.
And to tell you the truth, there’s no good reason for it. I’m embarrassed to tell you this, but she had to ask me out on our first date! I was smitten with her, no doubt about that, but I was the shiest guy in three counties. So, if we were ever going to get our relationship in motion, she w as the one that had to take the initiative.
I’m embarrassed to tell you that, but I am more embarrassed of the next thing I’m going to tell you. Since she had asked me out for our first date, I wasn’t nearly so nervous about asking her out for our second date. But here’s the thing: Not only was I shy; I was also cheap. And, when we went on the second date, I made her pay her own way! It’s a wonder she ever consented to marry me! That’s why I say I’m lucky in love. It’s only by the grace of God that I ever got a woman like Jan to be my bride!
Being married to Jan has taught me lot of things, and I’d like to share one of those things with you today. The Bible says, “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 Jn. 4:18). I used to wonder what that meant, but, after being married to Jan, I think I know. Here is what I think it means: Resolve who or what it is you love, and you will solve what you fear. Because I love Jan, a lot of things are settled for me. I know where I’m always going to be; I’m going to be where she is. I know who’s going to be with me; she is going to be with me. I know why I’m going to feel safe and happy and hopeful – no matter what life brings – because she makes me feel these things. Resolve who or what it is you love, and you will solve what you fear.
Think about how this works for you: Something is “disturbing the peace” in your life. It could be a decision you have to make, and you’re afraid to make a mistake. It could be a difficulty you face, and you’re afraid of what might happen. It could be a dilemma or a disturbance or some other type of distress, and the future seems uncertain. And you are caught in the grip of fear. You are unsettled.
And what does Jesus do? He speaks peace into the turbulence. Isn’t that what he does in verse 27? He 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.” Jesus settles our fears. He gives us peace. And his peace is not like the peace the world gives.
“What’s the difference?” you ask. “How is the peace Jesus gives different from the peace the world gives? And what does Jesus mean by ‘the world’?” Those are good questions, and I want to answer the second question first.
What does Jesus mean by “the world”? First of all, he doesn’t mean planet earth. And he doesn’t mean all the people on the planet – all seven billion, give or take. What he means is a mindset – a system of values, a worldview – that excludes God. It may be aggressive in ruling him out – by opposing him with its own agenda – or it may be more passive – by simply ignoring or neglecting him. But that’s what “the world” is. It is life without God. Futures are planned, decisions are made, steps are taken, attitudes are held, comfort is sought, life is lived – without any reference to God. That’s what Jesus means by “the world.”
Does this world offer peace? Yes, it does. Jesus acknowledges that. How does it make good on its offer? I’ll tell you. There are at least three ways: empty promises, distraction, and deception.
The world’s promises are empty because they can’t be fulfilled. For example, one of the things the world promises is happiness. Can the world keep that promise? For a time, perhaps. But go heavy on the “perhaps.”
Let me tell you something that I’ve noticed about myself. I’ve noticed that, when there’s something I really want, I convince myself that I have to have it. It becomes a necessity. If I only had that – whatever it is – it would make me happy. I’m so convinced of this that I will go to almost any lengths to secure the coveted prize – the priceless elixir, the brass ring, the magic bullet, the Holy Grail. And when I get it, am I happy? For a time, maybe, but then? Then I am bored with what I have, and I need something else to make me happy. And I find myself wanting it and telling myself the same thing. If only I had that, then! Then, I would be happy! This, of course, is a deception, but I believe it. And I allow myself to become distracted by the pursuit of it – or, if not it, then by the pursuit of the next thing that is it. And I can spend the whole course of my life seeking happiness and never finding it. And what’s ironic about it all is that this is exactly what I fear. I fear that I will never be happy.