I’m still answering Christ’s question, “Who do you say that I am?”
What I say:
He is both the Prince of Peace and the great Disturber of the Peace.
What I mean:
We Christians identify Jesus as the person Isaiah calls “the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 6:9). He has promised to give us his peace that is unlike anything the world can give us (John 14:27).
But he also said that he came not to bring peace, but a sword (Matt 10:34). He said that he would cause disturbances among people, even to the point of breaking up families: “and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household” (v. 36). The peace that he offers does not just soothe us and make us feel good; although it calms our fears, it also emboldens us to take a stand for him, despite opposition.
I’m sure the local leaders cringed when they heard that Jesus was coming to their town, because he often said things that upset them. “Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me,” he said (Luke 7:23). It was a significant remark, for Jesus didn’t mince words. In Nazareth, the crowd got so upset they tried to grab him and throw him off a cliff (Luke 4:29). And these were the people who had known him as a boy!
Nor is this all confined to the pages of scripture. In my own life, he has been the Prince of Peace. Each day as I plug in my headset and take customer service calls for my day job, I sense him within me, not only keeping me calm when customers yell at me but also empowering me to respond compassionately, leading the discussion to a constructive outcome. And all the rest of the time (not just in those crisis situations), his peace wells up within me, helping me rise above boredom and remain fully engaged in each call.
But he is also the disturber of my peace, for his thoughts are not like mine (Isaiah 55:8), and every time I start to get comfortable with my conceptions of him, he reminds me of that in rather startling ways. Worse yet, he urges me to listen respectfully to viewpoints that I disagree with and to be kind to the people on the opposing side of the hot issues of the day. When I feel a strong impulse to hate someone, he places me in situations in which I must sort out those feelings and do something about them. There have been many times in which I have felt my course of action would be easier if I could just do things my own way.
He fits the description that the writer of Hebrews gives of the word of God: “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 KJV). I don’t just read about him; he reads me. And “all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (v. 13).
Those last words are especially appropriate: “him with whom we have to do.” I can’t ignore him. I can’t call upon him only when I want his counsel. He’s the one I have to answer to, not only at the end of the day but each moment of each day. As the New Revised Standard Version translates verse 13, he is “the one to whom we must render an account.” This calls to mind Jesus’ warning in Matthew 12:36: “I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter.” And these days, with so many subjects becoming politicized, it’s hard not to stumble carelessly into a remark that hurts someone else. “On the day of judgment, you will have to give an account…” Except that I don’t have the luxury of waiting for some eventual day of judgment; because I’m his follower, every day is a day of judgment. And he lets me know it.
My goal is to bring the two parts of this together – to know him as a disturber of my peace, and yet to rest in his peace. The New Testament tells a story about him that Illustrates this. Christ and his disciples were in a boat in the Sea of Galilee when a storm whipped up. At least four of his disciples were fishermen. They were experienced at this sort of thing, and they knew this was a bad storm. They hurried to Jesus, and he spoke to the wind and the waves as though they were a child having a tantrum. “Peace, be still,” he said. And the storm stopped (Mark 4:35-41; see also Matt 8:23-27 and Luke 8:22-25).
The lesson we’re supposed to learn from this story is to have faith in Jesus, whom “even the wind and the sea obey” (Mark 4:41). But I get more inspiration from a minor detail of the story. While the storm swirled about them, tossing their boat around like a toy, the disciples were surprised to find Jesus sleeping. He was at peace, and he was also able to make the storm be at peace.
“In the world you have tribulation,” he said. “But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 KJV).
Who do I say that he is? He is the eye of the storm. Controversy swirls around him, problems come at him from every side; but he is the peace at the center of it all. He himself is at peace, and in some cases it’s contagious.
As his disciple, I want to live each day resting in his peace, no matter what storms or controversies are swirling around me.
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