Summary: We find peace in: 1. Humility 2. Believing 3. Surrender
I recently read of a couple who retired in 1980. They were alarmed by the threat of nuclear war, so they undertook a serious study of all the countries of the world which would be least likely to experience war. They wanted to be sure they spent their last years in peace and security. They studied and traveled all over the world, talking to people and garnering as much information as they could. Finally they found the place which seemed the most out of the way spot where they could live in peace. The Christmas of 1981, they sent their pastor a card from their new home — in the Falkland Islands. As you may know, these small islands off the coast of Argentina, which seemed like paradise, were turned into a war zone early in 1982. Argentina’s then military government decided to invade the islands and were defeated by Great Britain in the conflict now recorded in history books as the Falkland War. The war lasted 72 days and claimed nearly 1000 casualties. Obviously, the couple did not find peace in the Falklands.
Where is peace? One thing is for sure, it is not in the places where we think it is. Isaiah prophesied, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). On the first Christmas day: “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests’” (Luke 2:13-14). What did it all mean? Such a commotion over such a small child born in an obscure village to humble parents. Such a powerful promise about one who appeared so powerless. He would never sit on a throne or lead an army. He did not begin a bureaucracy or leave behind an impressive and well-organized group of followers. In fact, history knows very little about the lives of most of his apostles. To the dismay of many, he did not advocate the overthrow of the government which held Israel in captivity. He came bringing peace of another kind and another dimension. He said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
In a culture which is trying to medicate it’s way to peace, the message of Jesus has never been more relevant. But the peace Christ gives does not come in the ways that we might think. It comes in unexpected ways — ways that for many seem weak and unacceptable. I want to point out three simple ways to peace this morning, that if you follow them, will bring peace to your mind and heart. You may continue to have conflict on the outside, over which you do not have control, but peace will come to your heart. They are simple ways, nothing really profound, but powerful in their ability to give peace. Where do we find peace? First, We find it through humility. It is so hard to have peace when you are trusting in yourself, because you can’t do everything and you are not in control no matter how much you want to be. If you want peace, you have to stop relying on yourself and trying to figure things out on your own. You cannot be full of pride and full of God at the same time.
Joanna Chu told me an interesting Chinese proverb this week. I didn’t know this, but all Chinese proverbs are told by speaking only four Chinese characters — four words. This parable is called “Frog-Well-Sky-World.” The parable’s meaning is that a frog in a well can only see the sky above him, and he thinks that small circle of blue sky is the whole world. He believes he sees and understands the entire world — Frog-Well-Sky-World. Typical of Asian thought, it is a proverb about the importance of humility. You are a frog in a well, and you can only see and understand what is available to you. Don’t be so proud as to think you know everything. Peace comes when you realize that you don’t understand it all and you are not the center of the universe — even if you are the center of the well.
Your worth is in who you are in God, not in what you have accomplished. The Bible says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10). Remember that God is the Creator and you are his creation. Or as the Psalmist put it: “Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3). Remember that there is a God and you are not him. Stop acting like you are in charge of your life and recognize the ownership of God over your life and the world. When you walk in that humility, you walk in the peace of understanding who you are and where you fit in the scheme of things. When you walk in pride, you have no direction because you are walking in spiritual blindness, and disaster is stalking you. Proverbs says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). The Bible warns: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall ” (1 Corinthians 10:12). I have peace because my self worth is grounded in what God thinks of me. I don’t always have to worry about what others think, because my approval comes from God. Arrogance is unnecessary when you experience God’s acceptance. You don’t have to prove anything, and you have deep-down peace.