Striving vs. Peace

On Sunday morning, Jurie painted a beautiful picture for us. When we stop striving to balance all the "priorities" in our lives - spouse, kids, work, religion, hobbies, rest - and have God's will as our sole priority, He brings shalom. 
There is a long list of Biblical people who lacked the balance we often strive for, in favor of a single-minded focus on the mission to which God had called them. As a primary example, Jurie described Jesus' life. He had no time for family, was penniless, and worked Himself to the point of exhaustion. At one point, he was so overcome with emotion that his sweat was like blood. I don't know about you, but I don't associate the words in the shalom image above with that description of Jesus' life. Paul's life was similarly "unbalanced." Consider this scripture:
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, .... Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 
(Phil. 3:7-9a, 12-14, emphasis added, NIV)
Throughout the Bible, we come across points of tension. There is a tension between predestination and free will, a tension between Bible-based and experience-based faith, and now we see a tension between striving and shalom.

For a moment, try to look at your own life from God's perspective. Is God concerned with your overall wellbeing? Absolutely. But overall wellbeing is defined very differently by God than it is by our worldly standards. Why were you created? Throughout the Bible, we're given the answer: you were created to be in relationship with the Father. God's primary concern is the relationship between your soul and His Spirit. His primary concern is not your physical comfort, your material wealth, or even your health. His concern is your soul.

The Gospels are filled with descriptions of Jesus going off to spend time with the Father, in lonely and secluded places, often while the world around was sleeping. We know, too, that Paul had a rich prayer life and worshipped the Lord in the direst of circumstances. For them, the first and only priority was their relationship with God. Their priority was aligned with God's priority for them. And both had "the the peace of God, which transcends all understanding [to] guard [their] hearts and [their] minds ...." (Phil. 4:7, NIV) In short, they had shalom.

When Paul invested in his relationship with the Lord, what was the result?
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content [having shalom] in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. 
(Phil. 4:12-13, brackets added, NIV)
This often-repeated passage shows us what shalom looked like for Paul. No matter your circumstances, may you also find the secret to shalom when you prioritize your relationship with Christ.

Eager to hear more about this peace that God promises? View Sunday's sermon below. 

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