Peace Not as the World Gives (Part 3)
We’ve seen that there is a kind of peace that Jesus gives to us, and then there’s a peace that he doesn’t give. He made this clear in John 14:27, when he said, “My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.” Scripture teaches that peace for the Christian comes alongside conflict and sorrow. Last week we saw that the first kind of conflict Christians face is conflict within us. This week we’re going to talk about the second kind of conflict Christians face in this world: conflict outside of us.
When we decide to follow Jesus, the world turns from generally friendly territory to very hostile territory. Jesus explains in John 15:19, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” This is pretty clear, and pretty simple. We can either be at enmity with God and on good terms with the world, or we can have peace with God and be at enmity with the world. These are mutually exclusive options! It’s one or the other.
When we decide to follow Christ, we essentially get a huge target placed on our backs. Satan’s hatred for us gets kicked up a notch. Of course, Satan hates everybody (that’s just how he rolls), but he has a particular hatred for God and those who love him and have been rescued by him. When Jesus saves somebody, that person’s relationship to Satan is fundamentally altered. Before we are saved, Satan functions as our accuser and enslaves us by holding condemnation and death over our heads. But when we become a Christian, Satan is no longer our accuser (because we have been forgiven of sin) but becomes a conquered enemy. Romans 16:20 says, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” So when we become Christians, we become a special enemy of Satan.
Not only does Satan hate us, so do others who love their sin and hate the light that Jesus’s people shine on their evil deeds. As we try to live righteously, and as we speak words of grace and truth in our homes, workplaces, neighborhoods, and other relationships, those who shun grace and despise truth will turn on us. We will become their enemies.
Yes, Jesus gives peace, but he gives it in the midst of conflict, both within us and outside of us. And he not only gives it in spite of the conflict within and without, but because of the conflict. In other words, the two kinds of conflict assure us that we belong to him. I’ll explain what I mean next week.