Recently I saw one of those ubiquitous church signs by the highway. It said,
“My peace I give to you”
Enjoy the peace of Jesus
This is so typical of roadside Christianity—the promise of easy solutions if the motorist just stops on by. Yet, doing the work that Jesus gives us to do—even the work of having a quiet heart—is not something that can be picked up at the drive-thru. It is difficult work.
Peace that comes free and easy is a temporary peace. The peace Jesus is talking about comes after hard work. Here is the entire verse from which the church sign was taken:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid.
Notice the little phrase the sign doesn’t include: “not as the world gives do I give to you.” The peace the world gives might be a moment at the beach; a few moments on a fishing expedition; a few moments in front of a glowing screen; a few moments stoned; a few moments of hope at a drive-thru. Easy peace.
An untroubled, unafraid heart is rather of a different matter. It is long- term. Contrary to appearances, religion is not about wish-fulfillment. Easy answers are based on nothing more substantial than belief. Yet a cursory study of humanity shows that belief is often unquestioning. The scriptures created by human beings in our grapple with the realities of the world are not proto-self-help books. Our responses to consumer products and politics—“in my opinion . . . I like . . . I don’t like . . .”—have little meaning in the face of texts designed to address ultimate reality.
Serious religious practice ain’t that easy . . .