Lord's Day last, Pastor John, considering that these times might burden each of us and our loved ones with especial stress, started a small series of sermons called “Piece to Peace”. The concern is that the stress can potentially leave us in “pieces” inside. The hope is that if we have the right attitude toward our Lord, we will transcend such fractured feelings and know “Peace”.
Pastor John read to us from Paul's Letter to the Philippians, chapter 4, verses 4 through 7: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
So then, how do we pass into God's peace in this difficult time?
Pastor John offered the very effective metaphor of the rocking chair. He who uses the rocking chair engages in quite a lot of movement but he never gets anywhere. Worry and fidgeting involve much mental to-ing and fro-ing, but they don't get you anywhere. Pastor John noted that during one year recently 40 million Americans spent 42 billion dollars to treat anxiety disorders. Pastor John further explained that today's American child on average has the same anxiety level as a 1950s-era American psychiatry patient. This is a very sobering statement.
In the Koine Greek in which the New Testament was written the word μεριμνάω (merimnáō) means to be anxious. It comes from mérimna which means “to be divided into parts”, or more to the point, “to go to pieces”, So, to be anxious is to be in pieces. Not a good state of being.
To advance further our understanding Pastor John read from the Gospel of Luke chapter 10, verses 41 and 42: “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it (the one thing) will not be taken away from her.”
Martha is driven to pieces by many things, which is to say, the cares of this world. By contrast, her sister Mary is focused on one thing, the peace of which her Lord and Savior (and personal friend) was speaking about.
As we well know from Philippians above, we are commanded to rejoice. With this clear enjoinder from Our Lord, we know that the contrast - worry - is a sin. How is that? Anxiety is a manifestation of unbelief and lack of trust in God.
We read from1 Peter 5:7; “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” That uses the same verb as when Jesus disciples “cast” the blanket onto the donkey for their Master to ride into Jerusalem. We cast our worries onto Our Lord as we trust Him to be in full control. We read Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We have the peace because we know who God is. Knowing who He is, we trust Him. With such trust in the Almighty, where can our worries be? We cease to be in pieces and we are then in peace.
Think of it: when we live this life, there are times in which we find ourselves at the end of our rope, when we can go no further. When this happens, we must have someone to take over. In that case, we must know Him, and not rely on “church” or “religion”. This underlines the real meaning of Jesus being the “prince of peace.”
Think of it: as Pastor John suggested, if God saw to our salvation from sin the only way possible, through the sacrifice of His only begotten Son.....
then why not trust Him with all of life's (relative) trivialities?