Sunday, May 27, 2012

Peace I Leave With You

John 14:25-31 (ESV)
"These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. [26] But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. [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. [28] You heard me say to you, 'I am going away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. [29] And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. [30] I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, [31] but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.

Pentecost, A Christian holiday befitting the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t get much press. We get one last Sunday of Red before heading into the green. It’s not Christmas or Easter, those glorious events centering on Christ’s salvific acts accomplished on behalf of a world of sinners, receive much more attention. Of course, Pentecost it seems to me, always kicks off a period of fast. Not like lent, lent is almost a feast in the midst of a fast, the excitement builds up, expectation, it has it’s own fanfare, and so fits well with all the feasting that occurs between Christmas, Easter and the Ascension. But Pentecost and then Trinity. I’m kind of upset I won’t be here for Trinity. In Utah, that holiday has taken one special meaning and I do love it. The only holiday dedicated to a doctrine. It is the least postmodern of them all. But it gets less play then Pentecost. It is almost as if the satiated saints can’t gather up the strength and resolve to celebrate anymore. They need some rest.
“Peace I leave with you, peace I give you.” It is peace through Christ our Sabbath rest, who fulfilled the law for us with his death and resurrection. These were the words of Christ regarding his leaving and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Peace. Not world peace, not a worldly peace that never lasts. But peace A restful peace, a peace that lasts, a peace purchased the blood of Christ, and accomplished in the souls of believers by the work of the Holy Spirit, a Peace wrought between a Holy God and sinful men.
Earthly peace, it is always so tenuous, and uneasy. Like the peace of the Cold War, both sides looking across borders at the other side, watching them build up and prepare for war. Hoping it never comes, and realizing that not a whole lot needs to be done to set it all in motion. Earthly peace it seems never lasts. Sinful people get in the way. Greed, and malice, selfishness, and ambition take it all away in a matter of minutes. Hard work seems to go down the drain. Perhaps you want to throw in the towel and just give up. People you love and cherish do, and it feels like they have given up on you. Coworkers stabbing you in the back, undercutting your deals, people you thought were friends taking advantage of you. It goes on and on. Meanwhile you worry about the bills stacking up at home. The economy poor, burned out and you wonder. How’s that for earthly peace?
But the peace that Jesus offers through the Holy Spirit is a different peace, a peace that survives amidst earthly peace and earthly turmoil. It is a peace that comes with trust in God, who forgives your sins, and all your failings. Peace that comes with trust in God, and not in yourself, and your ability to do it all. It is a peace anchored in Christ, amidst the storms of life. It is a peace, knowing that it isn’t your work, but his work that is being done, that he is using you. This applies just as much to you as it does to any pastor, or Sunday School teacher. God is using you to accomplish his work. He does this when you are punching in for your nine to five, and he does so when you are sitting here in these pews. Yes, here too he is accomplishing his work, not only in you but through you. He is accomplishing his work through you every time that life giving waters held in that font are poured over the head of another soul. Every time a child in Sunday School learns of the love of Christ for sinners and the forgiveness of sins.
Pentecost, three thousand souls saved with one sermon. We might think the work was done if we saw that happen here. We would be wrong. The Holy Spirit’s work had only just begun, it was but a ground breaking event for the church to be built. The Holy Spirit would continue this work in and through the church, as the church continued to devote itself, to the apostle’s teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and prayers. The Holy Spirit would use them, as even now he uses you. Oh we would rejoice to see that happen. Perhaps sometimes that is my problem. I want to see it happen so badly. I make the mistake of thinking it depends on me, or it depends on you. That only leads to frustration, which leads to burnout and then throwing in the towel. Instead, I think we could learn something from the disciples who just waited patiently praying in the upper room, when the Holy Spirit used them to accomplish this miracle. Or those baptized that day, who just remained true to the word, calm and persistent amidst all the setbacks of Acts. Read the book once, it isn’t a pretty picture. The disciples are laughed at, the disciples are ridiculed, beaten and charged with inciting riots, stoned, wrecked at sea, and whipped. And yet the disciples push on. One might ask how? From whence came their strength? “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.” Was the promise Christ gave the church just there speaking of his ascension. And this peace he does give us, It is his peace, and it is found in his church, and in his word. Which is why the disciples devoted themselves to the apostolic teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers. Because there amidst all the hardships of this world, disappointments and setbacks in the work of the church, there is found strength to carry on, and peace, and comfort only the Holy Spirit can work in the hearts of sinful men, peace with God.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

No comments: