This month our kids are learning about choosing peace over conflict. It is a good series of lessons, but this Sunday I want to talk about a different kind of peace. In John 14 Jesus said "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 be afraid." Let's speak about a supernatural kind of peace!
In 1933, just before the Hindenburg government fell and Hitler came to power, the Germans were fearful. Always a pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer preached and proclaimed God's power to a people who felt powerless over what was happening. The people feared "the red tide from the East (communism)." The people saw fighting in the streets. Rumors, theories and misinformation abounded. Bonhoeffer made 2 points to his people.
First, after reminding people to set their eyes on the things above (a sermon preached in June of 1932) he reminds the people that God is above all things. This message is consistently preached and penned in God's Word. The 1st Chapter of Ezekiel shows a vision of a wheel within a wheel and 4 living creatures spinning near the earth. There was a vault above the living creatures and above the vault was a man on a throne. Ezekiel is (Chapter 2) directed by the man to go out and speak to a rebellious Israel, rebellious because they have followed false Gods, false teachings, idols and all of the things worshipped by their neighbors (rivers, animals, wooden and metal statues, and ideas that did not come from God). The image in Ezekiel 1 is there for a specific purpose ... to say, "I (God) am above all of the things petty people choose to worship!" Jesus said, "I have been given all authority in heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18)." God is constantly and consistently proclaiming His power over all things! Bonhoeffer's message is ... "Observe, make positive changes, work with each other, don't join in with evil and be 'as shrewd as serpents but as gentle as doves (Matthew 10:16)' but do not succomb to fear." God will set things right!
The second part of Bonhoeffer's message is from Matthew 8:23-27. Never forget that Jesus is IN the boat! God is above all things and Jesus has authority over all things, but Christ has chosen to get into the boat! We fear that God might be asleep as we face the things that Germany faced in 1933. Yes, we are divided! Yes, there is fighting in the streets! Yes, some people are following false-gospel cults! Yes, governments struggle to follow the principles our founding leaders cast in stone! But our lives, our world, our church and our community does not need to fall to fear and chaos. "For God is with us. His rod and His staff are comforts to us!" And, as in Matthew 8, Jesus still rebukes the winds and the waves. God is with us in the boat! This is the same God we invoke when we say, "With God nothing is impossible!" This is the same God that has shown us His ability to overcome darkness with light!
In our children's message this morning, there is a story of Abigail bringing peace to a testerone-driven situation. David was headed to destroy the minions of a bad actor named Nabal. David accepts Abigail's offer of peace, relents in his quest to kill Nabal, and God handles the matter in His perfect way. I wonder if David, after he sees God's plan unfold, said what the disciples say in Matthew 8 ... "Who is this God that even the winds and the waves obey Him?"