I have enjoyed and learned from a couple of good books and have been thinking about them lately as it relates to this question of peace. On was titled, Finding Peace in a Frantic World and the other was, Anti-Cancer- A new Way of Life. The first was a scientific look at the benefits of mindfulness meditation and I think everyone could benefit from this kind of practice. The second was about a doctor’s experience when he got cancer and his search for ways to find healing and health. It was chocked full of the latest scientific things to do to prevent cancer and extend and improve your life even after cancer. A common theme to both books was their agreement that managing stress was a major factor in both one’s mental and physical health. They both recommended meditation and exercise and tried to give a fair and enlightened look at questions of life and death and the how one can approach the stressors with which we all must contend. They gave consideration to many eastern traditions, but NO mention of or consideration for the Judeo-Christian concepts of life and death. I was not surprised that they had so much fear and confusion to write about.
I was meditating on these books and some of the ageless questions that we all have to grapple with:
· What is the meaning of life?
· What am I supposed to be doing?
· What will happen when I die?
· Where did we come from?
As I thought about these questions, another question occurred to me that neither author had posed. The question was, “why do we ask these questions?” This is the question behind the question (to borrow from the clever book, QBQ-question behind the question). So why are we all searching for these answers?
I believe that the answer lies deep within our very nature. I believe that the one true God who created everything created us. The beauty, diversity, complexity of the stars, the plants, animals, the biological systems, and on and on, are amazing, but they pale in comparison to His most amazing creation of all: Us. We are all those things already mentioned, but we are more than just physical accomplishments. We are also spiritual and it is the spirit with in us that is doing the searching! So, again I ask, “ Why are we searching?”
I believe that we are made in the image of God (Imago Dei), and this must be my beginning point of any philosophical examination of these questions. We have to TRY to think about what it means to be made in the Imago Dei (which I like to abbreviate ID- ironic isn't it...that the ID givens us our ultimate ID). Think of just a few of His attributes: Loving, creative, in fellowship or relationship with His own triune nature, complete (or another way to try to express that idea is whole or holy), perfectly balanced in every aspect including the relationship between love and justice.
It is clear from His love letter to us that He wants us to be in relationship with Him and He wants us to be complete, but He does not force us. That is an interesting twist isn't it? What pleasure would there be for either party if it were forced? Remembering that He has revealed Himself through the things that have been made (Romans 8 and Psalms 19), His word, and through His witnesses: we can get back to the question about why are we searching.
We are made in His image, but we are not complete if we are not in relationship with Him. To be outside this relationship is to be all the things we can easily list: to feel lost, afraid, empty,worried, etc., etc. These are the "feelings" that generate the questions! The spiritual part of us knows that there is something missing and thesearch for completeness begins! This void cannot be filled by anything other than THE RELATIONSHIP and that is clearly explained in the book of Ecclesiastes.
The importance of the relationship is seen in the garden just after the original sin. God went searching for Adam as soon as the relationship was “broken”. It seems to be implied that He was searching because of the question, “where are you?” I know that God knew where Adam was physically, but was asking Adam to confess his sin and acknowledge the betrayal. More to the point, where are you as it relates to our relationship?
So when one finally sees that it is THE RELATIONSHIP he needs and desires, God is waiting and ready, but there is a problem. God is Holy and you can’t come to Him unless you are! So, since we have all fallen short of that mark, we can’t be in THE RELATIONSHIP yet. The good news is that He has made a way that you can be cleansed of all your sins, but there is a price. The price is so great that you could never pay it. The only way to pay the price was if God Himself paid it with the sacrificial death of His only Son, Jesus. God loves/loved us and wanted us to be in relationship with Him enough to sacrifice His Son as payment in full for our sins! He did that so we could be with Him in this life and forever! If you believe in His Son, and ask for forgiveness, He will give it and then the relationship can be restored.
We are adopted into His family and He tells us over and over fear not, don’t worry, etc., psalm 23, I have got it covered…in today’s vernacular, “I have got your back!”
If you have faith that He is able to do all He says, then you should not fear or worry! Fear and worry are inversely related to the faith you have! (Math 8:26).
We should take heed and follow the advise God gives us to “be anxious for nothing, but in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be known by God, and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your heart and minds through Jesus Christ.”
In summary, there is no peace if you are not in relationship with your creator. However, once at peace with Him, you can find peace with yourself and then with the others you are supposed to love! It all pieces together nicely…pun intended.
Closing prayer:Dear Lord, we acknowledge you as our creator. We thank you for making us in Your image and making a way, through Jesus Christ, for us to be in relationship with You. Thank you for giving us the manual and the tools to find peace in this frantic world! It is in Christ’s name that we pray, Amen
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