Peace, Hope, Love

written by Eric S. Love
August 15, 2010
podcast available

Romans 15:13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Our GOD of HOPE causes our TRUST to lead to JOY AND PEACE which results in us overflowing with HOPE as the result of Holy Spirit POWER: it is a communion of our trust in God and the work of His Holy Spirit in us, which is an act of intimacy. The Holy Spirit IS the manifested intimacy with the Father.

There is a link between the HOPE of God and our own JOY and PEACE. They are directly proportionate: when one increases, the other increases as well. And they are all the product of our TRUST in God - and trust, too, is an act of intimacy.

My guess is that many of you have had weeks similar to mine. Here’s a list of highlights:
give relationship counseling to a boy I mentored and his girlfriend, who have a baby together (both come from hugely dysfunctional families and have no context for being in a loving relationship)
two days later counsel them again, only this time while she is in the hospital for trying to kill herself after he broke up with her for lying to him about her infidelity
a boy I currently mentor receives a letter from his parents where he discovers that they have been withholding information from him, essentially convincing him that they have lied, betrayed and manipulated him: this following months of work in the direction of forgiveness and reconciliation
a boy I currently mentor who found out he may have an incurable disease that is the direct result of the worst experience of his life

I work at a youth home, so my troubles often times - though not always - stem from things such as these. Still, on the whole, it doesn’t get this bad all at once. So what do I do in response? I continue to work toward hope, speaking peace to myself and these others.

The truth is, I began to grow despondent and only barely kept my head up enough to hold on to hope, and that because of relationship and the fact that I trust God’s heart.

Intimate trust comes from knowing God. If we want to get to the hope and peace part, we start with trust. And that looks as varied as we do. Consider these comparisons:



Peter and Paul, Samuel and David: Knowing God



Peter is an uneducated fisherman. He is a member of the “working class,” so to speak. Unrefined and uncouth. After his experience with the resurrected Jesus around the fire on the shore of the lake, he stands before the religious leaders who crucified Jesus (the last time he stood before them, he freaked out and denied even knowing Jesus) and speaks with such conviction, authority and boldness that the leaders declare between themselves, “this man is uneducated (and therefore could never pull off this without some outside help)… Clearly he has been with Jesus. (who, I remind you, had already been crucified!)”

Paul, on the other hand, is very educated in Judaic law; after his experience with the resurrected Jesus, his education is flipped: his knowledge from then on came from the experience of relationship.

In the case of both Peter and Paul, the effect of knowing Jesus and trusting intimately leads to a life filled with joy, peace and the power of the Holy Spirit. As far as education is concerned, they were opposites indeed. No matter, cause their knowledge was relational. Let’s look at Samuel and David in the Old Testament...

Samuel grew up in the presence of God. He opened and closed the doors and windows of the tabernacle and lived within sight of the Ark of the Covenant - God’s icon of His manifested presence and glory. Still, Samuel did not know Him until he had a personal interaction with Him. This is evident when God has to call Samuel three times before Samuel realizes it is God who is speaking to him.

David, on the other hand, was a mere shepherd boy who had never been near the Ark, but his life was worship. He experienced spontaneous interaction with God all the time. It wasn’t being raised with the walls of the tabernacle or even their exposure or lack of it to God’s presence... it was their own personal interaction with God that made the difference.

Education/going to church is good and necessary. But they are not enough. It’s important for us to give our children the opportunity to experience God’s presence and worship in Spirit and in Truth, but we also must allow them the freedom to discover God for themselves and thereby own their relationship with Him - not merely borrow it from us.
Experience through intimate relationship and interaction with Jesus is most important. Experiences with God outside the context of a relationship with Him are not enough... Saul had that, and he went insane. Experience isn’t enough.


The Power of God’s Presence


Quote from Williams Shakepeare’s Romeo and Juliet: this is what Friar Lawrence tells Romeo just before he marries him to Juliet in secret:
“These violent delights have violent ends, and in their triumph die... Therefore love moderately.”

Certainly I am not looking to Shakespeare for theological input, but this reminds me of our own fear of committing to love fully. We tend to love in moderation because we are afraid of fully unleashing it. I make a point to love deliberately and without reserve, and often I get burned. But in my experience, I’ve found that when love is moderated, it is not love. It’s a flimsy rip-off of it. And it leaves us wanting, disillusioned and disappointed.

God does not love us in moderation, but with risky abandon: “He demonstrates His own love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) And what is the result of such immoderate love?

1 John 4:18: perfect love casts out fear (the result of abiding in God)
John 8:32: truth sets us free (the result of us abiding in the word)
Philippians 4:7: peace fortifies our hearts and minds in Christ (the result of rejoicing always in the Lord and choosing thanksgiving over anxiety)

Do we understand the potency and power of God’s love and His truth? Do we understand his peace? They are forces themselves that overcome the enemy - when we give them place by abiding in the Lord - that is, by living in intimate relationship with Him - they displace the enemy naturally.

They actually deliver us from demonic oppression. Unbelievable! Look more closely:

John 14:27
Jesus said “Peace I leave with you. My peace I now give you. Not as the world gives do I give. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
This is in the context of Jesus’ last great teaching to the disciples before his arrest. He addresses a couple of things:  
First, He has given us His peace (and when He gives, He gives permanently. This means we have the peace of Jesus). We need peace.
Second, the opposite of peace is fear and anxiety. Fear is the basis for practically every other assault from the enemy. Peace is God’s counter attack.
1 John 4:18
Perfect love casts out fear.
God’s unquantifiable love for us, as we embrace it, as we trust it, literally throws down the spirit of fear in our lives: it overcomes a demonic oppression. This is where God’s peace grows out of: His heart for us, His heart for relationship with us.
Philippians 4:6-7
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition through thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
We see a counter-connection between fear (worry) and peace. The thanksgiving part helps us maintain our focus – it helps shape our “response”. The result is peace that is strong enough to fortify our hearts and minds against anxiety. It literally turns our hearts and minds into a stronghold of God's love.
Peace comes from hope and leads to hope. We always have hope.
Now a word on worship:
Francis Frangipane said this: “Consider: In our world of terrors, pressures and trauma, our only refuge exists in the living presence of God. We must not accept a religion about God instead of the presence of God. If we are to truly dwell in the Divine Presence, one thing perhaps above all others will take us there: We must become true worshipers of God.” He points out John 4:23 and says, “Consider well the priority of God. He isn't seeking for us to be miracle workers or great apostles and prophets. He desires more from us than the cultivation of good leadership skills or administrative strengths. What does He seek? He desires that we become His worshipers in spirit and truth... We have all heard teachings that God desires to have a relationship with us, and it is true. Yet, the implication is that His relationship with us is perfectly accommodating, nearly casual in its nature and mostly defined by our terms and needs. Yes, God desires that our union with Him be full and wonderful. Yet, His descent into our lives, His commitment to redeem and restore us, has another purpose: the reality of His presence transforms us into worshipers.”
Worship has to do with the shape of our hearts and attitude toward the Lord, the way we choose ti live and be - not just act. Frangipane believes “Indeed, a worshiping heart floods all other spiritual disciplines with legitimacy and substance.” I agree. Prayer, Bible study, ministry, service - even our faith, will become true and genuine as our worship does. Worship is an act of intimacy.

Desire

- Our desire is a fundamental force that, in the very least, helps to shape what we believe and, in turn, determine how we live. It should be directly linked to the Hope we have in God.

Proverbs 13:12: Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life
Sick people act differently than healthy people; it reminds me of the story when Jesus asked the man who had been blind his whole life, “Do you want to be well?” If we live in our sickness for too long, it becomes the only place we feel safe. And sickness leads to sickness.
“A tree of life” inside us means we no longer have to look to someone or something else to sustain us, we are sustained internally by the life of the Spirit.

Psalm 84:11: no good thing will God withhold from those who walk with Him
We have to believe that God will satisfy us, He will NOT disappoint us.
If we don’t, we will never be satisfied with Him and if we aren’t satisfied, we will always be looking somewhere else for satisfaction.

Psalm 37:4: delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart
Like choosing thanksgiving over anxiety, make God your delight. Again, He will not disappoint us.

Psalm 34:8: taste and see that the Lord is good
Tasting is interactive.

When we delight in the Lord, it becomes a tree of life in our hearts - our hearts aren’t sick but satisfied. This satisfaction becomes so tangible, even in the midst of Life - with all its difficulties and tragedies, that we can taste it. We trust that God will not withhold from us any good thing.

Peace and Hope, shared

As always, these powerful forces of intimacy with God - peace and hope - are meant to be shared between us and those we are in relationship with. We walk in communion together and find truth that sets us free. We find it together, because, quite simply, we can’t see well enough on our own to find it. And our joy and peace is passed between us like a virus. Life and hope become infectious. We begin to smell of it.

Into The Wild, the book (1996) and movie (2007) is about a young man, Chris McCandless, who burned all his money and abandoned all his belongings (actually giving over $20,000 - his entire life-savings - to charity) in order to become a tramp. He renamed himself Alexander Supertramp, and travelled the country and into Mexico and finally up into the Alaskan wilderness, leaving behind him a line of people who loved him everywhere he went. Ultimately, though, he chose to leave all of them. He believed that human beings over-valued human interaction and relationship. He died alone of starvation due to eating a poisonous plant in the wilderness. But days before he did, he scribble into the margins of a book he was reading: HAPPINESS ONLY REAL WHEN SHARED.

Krakaur, in his book, wrote this about it:
It can be interpreted to mean that he was ready, perhaps, to shed a little of the armor he wore around his heart, that upon returning to civilization, he intended to abandon the life of a solitary vagabond, stop running so hard from intimacy, and become a member of the human community. But we’ll never know...

Look again at the verse we started with:
Romans 15:13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

If we go back to the beginning of the chapter, where Paul is getting into the subject matter, he is talking about the community of believers.  In verse 5  he says, (AMP) “Now may the God who gives the power of patient endurance and who supplies encouragement, grant you to live in such mutual harmony and such full sympathy with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus.”

Do not love in moderation. Love in the fullness of the peace and hope that comes from trusting God.

Eric S. Love, 8/15/2010