Last night everyone was at home, hatches battened down (do we even have hatches in Derry), and doors closed. Safe from the storm that was about to hit. And it did hit (although not quite as much as I thought it would).
It got me thinking, though, about the life that Jesus calls his followers into – the life of the Kingdom of Heaven. There is a promise of life and peace if we put into practice his teachings and ways – yet sometimes in the chaos and metaphorical storms it feels like peace is out of reach. It’s a bit like we curl up in our patterns of comfort and withdrawal and wait for it to pass. Is there more on offer? Does this kingdom life that Jesus came and brought really work? Is it real for you and for me?
I believe so. And yet, at times it can feel far off. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about this and trying to make it real. Here’s some things I’m learning (hopefully some of it is helpful):
We must fight for virtue in our lives
Jesus talks about the virtues of the ‘kingdom of God’ kind of life in His sermon on the mount (Matt 5-8). They are the deep roots that we need to establish in us to see the life of God flow in and through us. Jesus said that this kingdom life is taken hold of by the forceful or violent (Matt 11:12). It’s strange but when we consider the chaos around us, and that the momentum of the world is away from this beautiful kingdom life – we begin to realise it requires a certain kind of grit and tenacity to establish ‘peace’, ‘generosity’, ‘love’ and the like deep in our lives.
The Way of Jesus is Peace
The order of the kingdom of darkness is chaos. It is disorder of every kind. We know that – disorder in creation, disorder in relationships, disorder in our thoughts, disorder in emotions and bodies. The order of the kingdom of heaven (Jesus’ Way) is Peace, which comes from right order or righteousness, good – perfect order of our Father. And this kind of Righteousness and Peace leads to Joy.
If you are anything like me (and I’m aware that chaos seems to surround itself a little more around certain people) you don’t need to think very long to give examples of chaos or disorder in your life. It may not even be life altering circumstances, just an accumulation of little frustrations. Cars breaking down, sickness, sleeplessness, a critical word from someone or much bigger life altering things.
Our day is filled with chaos, as Jordan Seng says, the world is not neutral. We face a barrage of little and sometimes significant things all designed to force PEACE and the virtues of the ‘Kingdom’ life from its rightful place in our lives.
And I don’t know if it’s just me but it seems the chaos seems to ramp up a level when we are seeking to move in our God-given purpose, to live as people of peace, to partner with God in seeing lives transformed by His Way.
It’s seems a little ironic to say it but maintaining PEACE as the ruler of our life seems to take a good bit of violence (at least spiritually speaking).
Jesus says to His disciples “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27 (ESV)
He understood the chaotic nature of a world trying to make its own way, without the God of peace, without the reality of His heavenly order being established on the earth. So, He encourages them and us, receive PEACE. And we know that when we receive anything in the kingdom we get to give it away, so as you receive peace release it to others.
Why don’t you fight for a space this week to receive the Peace that Jesus promises– it may feel a distant way off in the chaos and pressure you’re experiencing but remember the Way of Jesus is within reach – in fact it is in your midst (Luke 17:21).