Philemon 3 (ESV) – Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Are you looking for peace in your temporal circumstances? You shouldn’t be. Jesus told his disciples in John 16:33 that “In the world you will have tribulation.”This is right after he said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.” You see? In me = peace. In the world = tribulation.
Life is supposed to be tough for the believer, but affluence has tricked us into thinking otherwise. Spiritual growth is a long, hard labor of learning how to keep on taking the next right step in a cursed world that wants to keep knocking you down. But we’d rather be comfortable.
Having modern conveniences is fine and good, but they don’t satisfy the needs of the heart regardless of whether or not we think they do. It’s the nasty tendency of progress to tempt us to think we deserve the latest and greatest and that the latest and greatest will finally satisfy our deepest longings and provide that elusive peace. Our bodies long for comfort and our hearts long for peace, and when we’re hot, we think that air conditioning can satisfy that bodily longing because we’ve mistaken the physical comfort of air conditioning for the spiritual need for peace. Do you want to know how you’re doing spiritually? Turn off the air conditioning and watch your peace disappear in the oncoming heat wave.
The modern convenience of social media has done the same. I might stay connected with you to a certain degree on Instagram, but between you and me there are at least two screens and a who-knows-how-long length of cyber space that masks whatever is true about me that I don’t want you to know. I have a hard enough time being transparent as it is. Social media just allows me to indulge in the fantasy of presenting myself like I want to be presented without having to do the hard work of lying so hard about what I’m really like.
Now there are other pilferers of peace; I just happened to mention these two. And to be clear, I’m FOR air conditioning, and I’m OK with Facebook. But neither can provide peace, and both can pretend to. Neither of them can change the human heart, which is what needs to happen in order for me to experience peace. So somehow, I need to learn to enjoy the comforts of air conditioning and the connections of social media yet not find my peace in them. How do I do this?
Again, Jesus said, “in me you may have peace.” I need to find it in Christ. In being his. In knowing him. In being seated with him in the heavenly places. In knowing that he’s got me no matter what. In a growing understanding of his sovereignty over all things and in his unfathomable love for me in spite of myself. Who I am in Christ is settled whether I’m in an air conditioned room or in the fiery furnace. That’s where I need to find my peace. In him. In my union with him. That he is in me, my hope of glory.
If you need to, deny yourself either or both air conditioning and social media for a time in order that you might concentrate on enjoying the peace that you may have in Christ. I mentioned this past Sunday that I think that much of what ails contemporary Christians would go away if they quit looking for their greatest joys in this life. Jesus has overcome this world, not so that Christians might find their greatest joy in it, but that they might find their greatest joy in the new heavens and the new earth. I doubt we’ll need air conditioning then, and I’m nearly positive we won’t have Facebook. But we will have peace. Perfect, unadulterated, unblemished, peace. Because we will be with Jesus. For now, in the midst of all the tribulation, seek to grow in peace by growing in your understanding of him and your union with him.