5-10-16 - Not As the World Gives

In his last words to his disciples, Jesus told them to expect a gift from his Father: the Holy Spirit, who is the spirit of God. Jesus spoke about the Spirit as having a definable personality, characteristics, traits, functions. That’s one reason Christians arrived at our notion of God as three distinct yet united persons.

‘I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 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.'

Jesus suggests his teaching and training have been partial, limited; the Holy Spirit will teach everything, reinforcing all that Jesus spoke to them. He promises to leave his peace with them, a gift he would give again when he first saw them – perhaps in this very same room? – after he rose from the dead. He invites them to let go of the sorrow and anxiety that has gripped them, to let go of fear.

How might we we do that? I think we have to receive this gift of peace in the spiritual part of our being and let it transform our natural selves. We cannot attain it with worldly strategies; it is not a gift to be taken, but received. Perhaps that is what Jesus meant by “I do not give to you as the world gives.”

How does the world give? Capriciously, inconsistently, often conditionally. The world rewards achievement and productivity, privilege and connections. God rewards humility and faithfulness, weakness as well as strength. Above all, God seems to give as a function of relationship, to honor a relationship that already exists, not to win us over.

We pretty much know how to play by the world’s rules, some of us more successfully than others. Lasting peace, peace that stays with us even in unpeaceful circumstances, is a fruit of running our lives on God’s operating system, learning to live by radical trust rather than self-saving strategies. Is there a concern in your life right now that you might try to approach in God’s way rather than the world’s?

Learning to live on God-speed is a transition. We choose to put that relationship above all the others that claim our hearts, to offer everything – and receive far more in return.

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