I saw a rather thought-provoking t-shirt the other day, and engaged briefly with its wearer. The t-shirt proclaimed, “I Am Peace,” and the good-looking twenty-something was undoubtedly quite sincere in his pursuit of peace. He talked about working on relationships and communication, and trying to be grateful. He doesn’t in any way fit the stereotype for the kind of person one might expect to make audaciously arrogant statements. So his t-shirt and its puffed-up claim have really stuck with me.
Because what is peace? And where does it come from? Merriam-Webster says it’s a state of tranquility or quiet, harmony in personal relationships, or freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions. But even the sincerest pursuit of tranquility, or quiet, or harmony, produces meager results, because true peace comes from the Lord. And peace is a gift not an achievement. Jesus gives it away (John 14:27) not to the deserving, not to the upright, not to the do-gooders, not to the socially responsible, not to those who don a t-shirt and try hard. Jesus gives His peace to those who follow Him, who seek Him, who love Him, and who obey Him. A spirit of peace is void of striving, but t-shirt guy and those like him are defined by striving–sincere striving, admirable striving, but futile striving nonetheless.
It makes me wonder about the gifts God intends for us that we try to secure our own way. God wants to give us forgiveness and redemption. He wants to give us eternal life, purpose, and freedom. He wants to give us peace that transcends all understanding. So why do we reject the amazing gifts He offers us for free only to pursue them by other means? It’s an arrogant approach to life, isn’t it? It might be more subtle than wearing a t-shirt, but we have our ways of telling God, “I’ve got this one. I’m good.”
So in what areas are you aiming for God’s gifts instead of God himself?
Lord, forgive me for pursuing Your gifts instead of You. Help me to live a life fully surrendered to you. Thank you that true freedom and true peace are found in you, and that I don’t have to try to earn these gifts. Help me to be a minister of peace and love and truth, and may I glorify you with my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.