Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.
Imagine what it must have been like to hear Jesus telling the disciples that He was about to leave them. For three years, this group of "nobodies" had become a group of "somebodies."Now, as quick as He came, He was leaving them. To make matters worse, he tried convincing them this was a good thing. I don't know about you, but I have never been a part of a sudden change that, at the moment, I felt good about. However, from our perspective, it all makes sense why Jesus had to talk with the disciples.
I remember the first church that I was employed at. I was serving as the youth pastor, and one day, the senior pastor came to me about an interview that He was about to take with a church. Immediately, my mind went in a million directions. Knowing I needed a mentor, I thought about how this guy could hire me and then leave four months later. I wondered if this could have been God's way of moving me into senior ministry. I also thought about whether a new pastor would keep me on staff after they were hired. All that is to say, neither I nor the church approached the season as one that would be laden with peace.
Now, four years after receiving that first call into ministry, I have learned that peace doesn't mean there isn't a storm going on around you. Jesus' promise of peace didn't keep hardship from coming into the lives of His followers. When we study the lives of the disciples, we see that all except one of them are martyred, and the one who wasn't was left for dead on an island. Until we understand the peace that Jesus gives us, we are destined to fail to recognize what Jesus' birth, death, and resurrection accomplished for us.
Indeed, if the disciples lived lives of hardship for the Gospel, we should expect the same in our lives. We should expect to have to make decisions that offend people and make us outcasts in this world. We should expect people to push us away and need help understanding our faith. We should expect that we are too much of a "Jesus freak" for the world and not "religious" enough for the modern legalists. However, regardless of hardship, we can experience peace.
Last week, we saw that Jesus's birth gives us hope because He promises to return. Pair this with the reality that those who have put their faith in His redemptive work have received the gift of the Holy Spirit, and we see the blueprint for living in peace no matter how difficult life becomes. Our peace in this life comes from knowing that we are never alone. Even though Jesus is not physically with us, His Spirit is always alive and active within us.
This Christmas season, let us remember that we have hope that Jesus will return and peace until He does because His Spirit is alive in us. Whatever we do, let us do it all because Jesus showed us what it is like to have peace amidst the trials of His life. Let the story of that little baby who grew into our Savior be the image we all try to copy. Thank you, Jesus, for your Spirit that gives us peace to live our lives for Your glory.