Peace in the Midst of Change
April 27, 2016
by David Sibley
Jesus said to the 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. You heard me say to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” (John 14:27-31a)
Somehow, peace is rarely seems peaceful for Jesus’ disciples. Even as Jesus promises them his own peace, a peace not as the world gives, would be with them, he begins also to prepare his disciples for a great change: Jesus will go to the Father – leaving the disciples in a place they haven’t been before. Their world will change; Jesus will go away; a new world and a new life will await them.
I’ve been accused of being many things in my life – a heartfelt change enthusiast is most certainly not one of them. Perhaps like so many of us, I am often comfortable in the familiar – even when the familiar is not peaceful, not joyful, and not even particularly faithful. But it’s there; it’s present; it’s something I know. And truly, it is a place I think I would be content to remain.
But Jesus promises something different to his disciples – not only a change in their circumstance as he goes to the Father, but with that change, peace. Peace that allows hearts not to be troubled as all that they thought they knew faded into a distant memory. Peace that allows the disciples to live without fear after having been the biggest ragtag bunch of wimps any author could have dreamed of. Peace that changes their lives and the world around them; peace that transcends time and place and somehow enters our own lives.
This is the power of the resurrection working in our lives and in our world. Suddenly that which was familiar and easy and known loses its stability. When death is defeated, and nothing is sure, nothing is certain anymore. When Jesus rises from the grave, the familiar breaks down, common sense and common knowledge fade away, and something new takes its place: God’s own peace, which the world cannot give, in our hearts and in the hearts of all his disciples.
Consider how you understand change, and faithfulness, comfort, and peace in the midst of change. When your world changed, where did you see God and where was Jesus most near? What was your experience of peace “which the world cannot give?” How did you respond then, and how will you respond now?