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. – John 14:27
This is an excerpt from what scholars often call Jesus’ “Farewell Discourse.” On the night of his arrest, Jesus washes his disciples’ feet, eats with them, gives them the new commandment: “That you would love one another as I have loved you” (13:34). And he continues to speak encouraging them and warning them about what is to come. For Jesus, the cross is coming. Before the glory and victory and the life abundant, he will experience betrayal, agony, humiliation, and death.
But what about the disciples? What does their future hold? Confusion and grief, fear and failings, lives of persecution and pain but also grace that they cannot imagine. Jesus tells them, “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. “(15:18) These are not exactly the words of encouragement I would have hoped to hear, but there is a certain comfort in the truth.
My Nana was a preacher’s wife, a church organist, and the first woman ordained to the diaconate in her Presbyterian congregation. When I told her (as a high school student) that I felt called to ministry, she wept, saying, “I don’t want you to be hurt. People can be so cruel.” I was a naïve and starry-eyed 17 year old, but she knew how people – even Christians – can get caught in the ways of the world. Blinded by our own pain and fear, we stop thinking the best of one another and get caught up in cycles of hurt and blame.
There is an immediacy to the ways of the world that is hard to see beyond. In this moment in our nation, we find ourselves fraught with division, pain, misunderstanding and fear for our neighbors, and sometimes even fear OF our neighbors. The world is serving us a paltry platter of hope, very little love, and feeble faith.
Thank God we live for more than this. What Christ offers his disciples is a hope of glory, of grace, of life abundant beyond the death dealing ways of this moment. The peace of Christ does not rely on election results. Truly, my prayer for you is that no matter the outcome (and I’m writing this long before we have any results), you will feel a peace that is not of this world – a peace that seeps into your bones, a peace that is about both comfort and calling. God’s love always wins, and God will never stop calling us into that love.
In Romans 8, the Apostle Paul preaches truth: “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (vv.38-38)
May it be so.