We recently hung out with a church that held a special ‘membership night.’ They offered baptisms on the spot, dunking almost 600 people in an amazing, up-lifting service. People cheering, tears and snot-bubbles, all genuine and good. In that moment of elation, whether it’s after being baptized in a church, kneeling in our bedroom or bawling in the backyard, we feel peace. We’re forgiven. We have a fresh start.
But what’s cool about life as a Jesus-follower is that peace is more than a momentary thing. Yes, it is found in His forgiveness . . . there’s nothing like knowing we’re forgiven for our sins . . . past, present and future. And there’s great peace in knowing we’re going to Heaven when we die. (I didn’t think much about Heaven when I was 35 and healthy. But I think a lot more about it at 65 and sickly!)
But life in Christ . . . life as a Jesus-follower is far richer than simple forgiveness and Heaven someday. There’s a recurrent, permanent peace that flows from three truths explained in Scripture . .
We have no need to perform– God the Father loved Jesus the same from the beginning of time. He couldn’t love Him more. And Jesus turns around and says to us (in John 15:9), “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.” Amazing. And just to make sure we understand how His love is NOT dependent on our performance, He says (in Romans 8:1), “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” We are completely and totally and unconditionally loved by our Father no matter what. We don’t have to earn it, perform for it, be good enough to deserve it. It’s the choice He made when He redeemed us with Christ’s blood at the Cross. What peace!
We have a new heart, not an ugly one– Even in the Old Testament, God promises, “And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart of sin and give you a new, obedient, tender, responsive heart.” (Ezekiel 36:26 NLT). When I see the word “heart” in Scripture, I always translate it to “desire.” When I surrendered to Christ, He gave me a new heart, which became new desires. I wanted different things . . . better things . . . righteous things. Yes, we still live in a ‘fleshly’ body and we still sin. But when we met our Savior, we were born again into a new life in Christ, including a new, regenerative ‘heart.’ That’s peace giving.
We have value as our Father’s child– We could have received God’s love and acceptance and we could have been given a new heart, but God wanted more. He wants an intimate, personal relationship with us . . . like a perfect father with His perfect son. So He redeemed us from sin, gave us a new heart and adopted us into His family. “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will,” says Ephesians 1:4-5 (NIV). “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,” says Galatians 3:26 (NASB). And we are never ‘un-adopted’! How cool is that? Ultimate peace.
Don’t let your Christianity stop at salvation or church membership or a ticket to Heaven. Ask God to show you the truth of His love and the magnificent peace He has for you.