3 Ways Peace Jesus Gives Differs from Peace the World Gives


27 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.

John 14:27

Many times throughout my life, I have wondered how people of different faiths (or people who claim to have no faith at all) can seem to be living in such peace when their life comes crashing down all around them. If Christ is the true source of peace, why are there times when I feel devastatingly anxious and in the very same circumstance, someone who does not believe in God is able to move forward in confidence?

Biological influences aside, I’ve often assumed there must be some major flaw in my faith. Obviously, I am not trusting God enough, because the Gospel is not propelling me towards peace in the instant I experience pain or grief.

I no longer believe this is true. Believing in Jesus does not mean you will automatically have a leg up on feeling at peace in adverse circumstances.

Then what IS the difference between peace that Jesus gives and peace that the world gives? Here are three ways I think they differ.

    1. The world’s peace is temporal, Jesus’ peace is eternal.

      I don’t know anyone who would disagree with the statement that we live in a culture of immediate gratification. It is what feeds our addictions, greed, complacency, lust and more. The world’s offer of peace says that if you are a single person and you’re lonely and you want to feel wanted, go hookup with someone, watch porn, or realize your own self-sufficiency to cope. Jesus’ offer of peace says to that same person, run to Jesus and to the body of Christ for comfort instead.

      If I’m honest, the first option sounds a whole lot better because it gives immediate satisfaction to my desires and brings a temporary peace. But the truth is, the second option will give me more of a long-term sense of well-being. The world’s peace is wonderful at masking symptoms. Its the most amazing painkiller. Jesus’ peace, on the other hand, offers surgery for the deeper issues of the heart. Its less pleasurable, but more effective. And at the end of this age, the peace of Jesus will be forever sustained. The peace of the world will show its true worth and be blown away like dust.

    1. The world’s peace relies on the power of self, Jesus’ peace relies on Jesus.What is the world’s best response to suffering? Suffering happens to everyone. Make the most of it by taking care of yourself and thinking positively. Jesus’ answer is quite a contrast. The focus shifts from self to God. “In this world, you will have trouble,” He says honestly. “but take heart” –why?!?–“for I have overcome the world.”

      Who overcomes?

      Not circumstances nor positive self-talk. Not even gratitude or praise or trust in God (though these things can be immensely helpful in providing proper perspective and can certainly bring comfort and give glory to God)! The peace Jesus gives is based solely on Himself. This means that, if you are a follower of Christ, you have peace whether you feel like you have it or not. You have peace even on your most terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day (Alexander, anyone?) because it is not dependent on your effort. If nothing else in life is well, it can still be said, “it is well with my soul.” When everything falls apart, the world does not have that reassurance.

  1. The world’s peace strives to find purpose in suffering, Jesus’ peace is a free gift in the midst of suffering.

    “At least you can let this tragedy motivate you to help others in similar situations.” You hear this sentiment from Christians and non-Christians alike. So, what’s the difference? If we are not destroyed by it, all of us tend to clamor to find meaning in suffering. This is a noble desire that speaks of the wonder and resiliency of the human spirit. The difference, however, is how one finds meaning in suffering. The world shoulders all the responsibility of forging meaning on human effort. What a terrible burden!

    In contrast, Paul says, “all things work out for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” We certainly have a responsibility to act (we are called according to His purpose), but we are not alone. We are in partnership with the God of the universe and with the body of Christ, where the power of God also dwells. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” There is a strength behind Jesus’ peace that, even when no meaning can be found in a particular pain, has the capacity to stand firm in the knowledge that God is surely working for my good behind-the-scenes of life.

Hiding and Wholeness

At the time, it felt like I was trying to get God’s attention, but now I know it was the other way around. I was taking a long walk in my neighborhood in the budding days of early spring, 2016. As is common for me, I was restless, wanting to go deeper in my relationships with my friends, yet not knowing how. Long have I had a tendency to idolize friendships. Simultaneously, I have often felt unsatisfied and discontent in the guarded vulnerability and brevity of commitment I have found there.

From the time when I was little and preferred sad movies like The Fox and the Hound to the princess movies other girls my age would fawn over, I began to feel isolated. The forbidden friendship between Todd and Copper in The Fox and the Hound spoke to a longing in me much more than romances between Befox-and-the-hound-2lle and the beast, Prince Eric and Ariel, Cinderella and her Prince Charming. In fact, I resented those romantic relationships, because each of those pulled the main character away from their friends. I didn’t know why this made me so upset. My little heart didn’t even know I was hiding anything.

For the longest time, I stuffed all of the pain and confusion into a confined space in my mind, where occasionally I would hear it crying and pounding on the door trying to get out of the cell to which I had condemned it. I heard the pain weeping again, during that long neighborhood walk.

It’s time to unlock the door and let this part of your heart be heard.

fox-and-hound-3I felt the inaudible whisper in my soul. Interestingly, I felt a thrill of excitement, of adventure calling me. I felt ready. I simultaneously felt a whirlwind of fear and uncertainty. Was this some semi-conscious manipulative scheme I was formulating to attract compassion and comfort and deeper friendships? Was this really something I needed to bring up? I began to doubt my own motives.

But sometimes, you can’t wait until you have full confidence in your own completely pure motives. Sometimes you can’t want something completely before taking steps to explore it. Sometimes you can’t want to let go of addictions before trying to do it anyway. If I chose not to move forward in my warring motives, a part of my own humanity would have remained ignored until I reached a boiling point.

Back then, I was safer.

Now, I am in danger.

Then, my heart was incomplete.

Now, my whole heart is being allowed a chance to speak.

I’m allowing myself to fully experience a tension similar to what Tod and Copper experienced in their chaotic friendship.

fox-and-hound-1I thought by locking a part of my heart in a cell, I was doing my duty in restraining a monster. In actuality, I was ignoring a very sad, tender, isolated part of myself. I have come to embrace this part of me with simultaneous love, understanding, and grief.

Whatever you are hiding, Satan and yourself are going to tag team against you, telling you that it is not necessary to bring those things to light.

They’re right. It is not necessary to acknowledge the real, vulnerable areas of your heart. That is because there will be a time when the things you hide will come to light whether you want them to or not.

It is your choice: to confront your own heart or to wait until your heart confronts you.

I see you now, heart, in your desperation. I see your scared hound dog of a self wanting something that seems for all the world to be good, but, like the song says above: “if only the world wouldn’t get in the way.” And I’ll add to that the more important aspect – if only God wouldn’t get in the way.

At this point, perhaps you’ve guessed it. But maybe you have not, in which case here is the big reveal:

For one year I have wrestled with God and with this part of myself.

I am going to define the identifier before saying the term, to minimize confusion.

I am holistically attracted (emotionally, socially, sexually) to women. As of right now, I experience nearly an exclusive attraction to the same sex. My feelings have been as such for at least ten years, but for those ten years I denied my feelings any expression, thereby denying any sexual or romantic longings in their entirety. Can you perhaps see how this was unhealthy?

Thus, at twenty-four years old, I have gone through those intense and inexplicable and chaotic and painful hormonal feelings of turmoil that the scientific world likes to call: puberty. The chaos has only been magnified by the fact of where my attractions are directed. The chaos has been magnified even further by the fact that I claim to follow Christ. I say this in all seriousness . . . this internal chaos has been my own personal hell. It has been hell even when, in comparison to most, the responses of friends and family have been overwhelmingly positive and loving.

I can honestly say that I would love to be in a committed, Christ-following, sacrificial, mutually encouraging, physically intimate same-sex relationship. I have a homosexual orientation. I am gay. There we go . . . I’ve said it. That is the identifier to which my last 20+ blog posts have alluded.

I am not going to try to defend myself, my feelings, or the term I identify with to you here. I will leave the depth of such questions to face-to-face conversations . . . and I pray you will be kind and courageous enough to have these conversations with me.

However, let me explain why I am publishing this post.

To my gay friends and acquaintances, I am opening this part of my life in hopes that you may be encouraged that you are loved and you are not alone, not by any stretch of the imagination. Nor do you need to be ashamed of this part of who you are, wherever you are in the midst of questioning your sexuality. “Gay” and “Christian” can seem on the surface to be irreconcilable truths. They are not. I am living proof.

To my straight friends and acquaintances, I want to put a face to an “issue” to which you may not have had a personal reference. I guarantee you that I am not the only person you know who is gay, but I might be the only person who has yet spoken to you about it. I want to encourage you to be especially careful with your words and your social media posts in regards to anything LGBT-related. I want to encourage you to be a safe person for your friends wrestling with their sexuality. Safe people listen and empathize and love unconditionally.

To the Christian Church at large, I want to help bring the conversation about sexuality to the surface. Every topic, even and especially the most “uncomfortable” of topics, should be discussed. LGBT people, like every other person in the world, need their stories to be heard.

To myself, I just don’t want to hide anymore.

In a world that is encouraged to “come out” in countless ways and a Christian tradition that is encouraged to “conceal, don’t feel” in just as numerous ways . . .

It has become essential to see the real faces of the real people who all of this is affecting.

We must humanize the political rhetoric of the LGBT world, particularly in the Church. People’s lives are at stake.

I am passionate about this. I am sick-literally nauseous when I think about it-of hearing stories of people who are created in the image of God and who should be treated as such being demonized, ostracized from churches, and in extreme cases committing suicide simply because they have so bravely chosen to bring to light something that is a part of them: same-sex attraction. Guess what? Gay people who are in gay relationships are also still human. There are much worse things I can think of than living in a loving and committed same-sex relationship. Can’t you?

Forgive my soapbox. I know people who have been severely harmed by the Church in this way.

If you want to know how I’ve personally chosen to live with this truth, you’re going to have to wait, because I don’t even know.

Meanwhile, how can you tell me you love me? Invite my story into yours. I welcome questions about where I am on the journey, but I ask you to respect my response . . . there may be stretches of time when I do not want to talk. There may be a whole day when all I can do is cry. A week may pass where all I want to do is answer your questions. I will tell you what I need, but only if you ask me what I need.

One lie I struggle not to believe is that I am “destined for loneliness” and that I will never have committed lifelong relationships in my life. This is not just a gay problem (though it definitely is exaggerated by this fact) but a fear of many single people as well. From my observations and my own personal experience, Christian singles (particularly of the same sex) tend to form their own little tribes of single support groups. But is that all we really need? As a gay single Christian, I seriously wonder if I will ever have a family. Part of this longing can be met by entering into the ordinary chaotic lives of my married friends…the errand-running, the screaming babies, the folding laundry. Unfortunately, the lives of singles and couples/families are often segregated in Christian circles… I can’t help but wonder how much we are all missing. I ponder what it might mean that “God sets the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6). But I digress.

In summary, this is the metaphorical crossroads I have been at all along: will I keep the seemingly reasonable option open of pursuing a mutually loving and committed same-sex relationship or will I vow to remain celibate for the foreseeable future for the sake of God’s will and in some mysterious way, supposedly for the sake of my own flourishing?