In the Gospel of John, Jesus says to his disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me” (14:1).
In my little circle, we’re all kind of stressed out right now. We’re all anxious about a friend’s health. We’re all worried about projects getting done on time. We’re all uneasy about the state of the world. We’re all annoyed about—well, you name it, we’re annoyed about it.
What’s worse, we’re passing stress around to each other like a bad cold.
And Jesus says not to let our hearts be troubled? Doesn’t he know what’s going on here? Is he trying to tell us not to stress, not to worry, not to freak out?
Well, yes. Yes, he is. And he says it again, even stronger, just a few verses later: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid” (14:27).
Jesus talks about peace all the time. Whenever he shows up, he says, “Peace be with you.” But he’s not saying “Peace and love, dudes and dudettes” like our favorite old hippie brother-in-law.
[bctt tweet=”No, when Jesus says peace, he means shalom, the peace beyond all understanding. ” username=”womenoftheelca”]
This kind of peace doesn’t mean that all the worrisome things outside of us are changed—it doesn’t mean that suddenly our friends are all healthy and our computers are all cooperating and our world leaders are all a whole lot wiser. No, it means that we are changed. Our hearts are changed. We know, deep in our hearts, that in the end, everything will be all right. And with this kind of peace in our hearts, we can trust and love and serve and give with joy and hope and generosity.
This is the peace Jesus talks about all the time. This is the peace Jesus gives us. This is the peace of Christ.
May the peace of Christ be always with you. And also with you, and with you, and with you too. Pass it on!
Audrey Novak Riley serves Women of the ELCA as director for stewardship and development.