Temper-a-ture is an important indication of body health. So, it seems to me, peace-a-ture is an important indication of soul health. With me, too low a peace-a-ture is evidenced by my ability, or lack thereof, to manage those tiny buttons on the collars of my button-down shirts. It can get ugly! That’s just a small thing–not so important. But not having patience with children or with store clerks, or freeway-drivers, or bosses–can have strong legal and/or relationship consequences, not to mention lots of stress on the body and brain chemistry (the text book definition of clinical-depression is “anger internalized”).
So, how is it that people can have faith in Jesus, but still have an up-and-down peace level? What does it mean to “have faith in Jesus?” Can a person have faith in Jesus at 10:00 AM, but lose their faith by 2:00 PM? Just how connected are “faith in Jesus” and peace-a-ture? Is “identity” a faith-thing?
It seems to me–
that one can have faith in something, but only as long as that thing is reliable and available; and that one can have faith in someone, but only as long as that someone is reliable and available.
Since Jesus is a “someone,” does faith in Jesus have to do with His reliability and availability?
What is Jesus reliable and available for? What can He do? What is He willing to do? Because Jesus is reliable and available His job- description is of considerable interest to those of us who believe in Him. What can He do for us? What will He do for us? What about His promises?
Some of the promises Jesus made were to the nation of Israel during His
earthly ministry as the long prophesied Messiah. Other promises were made to His rather small band of disciples after His death and resurrection experience. These later promises are the ones I am particularly interested in.
Before I begin to discuss these resurrected-life promises I need to explain how the human mind works. Dr. Albert Ellis, now deceased, spent his adult life trying to figure out why people do the things that they do. The good doctor reasoned that the human mind goes through four phases of “thinking” that lead to human behavior– awareness, evaluation, emotion and behavior. I have learned a lot from his teaching, especially about my own gyrations in the area of “evaluation.” It seems to me that I like “to know” about how things work, all kinds of things. In order to come to this “knowing” I need to have some “understanding” of it based on true facts. Once I “understand” it, I am then ready to add my thing into my “belief system.” But the battle is not yet won. I now discover that I have an older “belief” about my thing that does not like my newer “belief.” Where did this older “belief” come from, and why does it not care about my new found, fact-based understanding?
The battleground of my mind is not in “understanding,” nor in “believing,” but in “thinking.” When I become aware of circumstance #832 coming up to my front door I make a lightening-fast, and completely automatic evaluation of #832 based on my childhood. My feelings are immediately triggered, and my behaviors follow my feelings right into the pit. The promises of Jesus never got up to bat.
God’s promise for winning the battle of the mind:
Romans 12:2 (NASB77)
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Apply the formula:
1. try to understand some-of-it,
2. try to believe the part-you-understand,
3. try to think on the part-you-understand-and-believe.
As you begin to do this your peace-a-ture will begin to increase. The more you understand, trust and think, the more the peace comes.
Some understanding, plus some believing, plus some thinking. equals some increase in peace. (Peace here is not PEACE with God, but an emotion in the soul, absence of fear, anger, frustration.)
John 16:5-15 (NASB77)
5 “But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘ Where are You going?’
6 “But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.
7 “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.
8 “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment;
9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;
10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me;
11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.
Do you see any promise in these verses? What do you understand from them? Did the disciples present understand Jesus’ message? What is the significance of the message for you personally? Did the disciples have any religious facts/beliefs that were being challenged by the message? What were they feeling?
The writer of the above is John, one of the original twelve disciples, the youngest, in fact. Disciple means “learner,” or “follower.” Disciple is an identity term in God’s heavenly accounting system. I am not one of the original “followers,” but I am on the team now. Becoming a “follower” does not automatically treat a low peace-a-ture problem, but learning and practicing “follower” thinking does. A disciple of Christ can learn, needs to learn. to think like Christ.
When a person joins the Marine corps he/she is given the Marine uniform and boots and haircut. New recruits are not treated with much respect by the Drill Sergeants, but they are given a lot of training in what being a Marine is all about. The one thing drilled into their minds is that there has been an identity change. They are Marines–first, last, always. They are constantly reminded of SEMPER FIDELIS (always faithful). Pretty soon they are Marines, body, soul and perhaps even spirit!
Becoming a Christian, a “follower” of Jesus, is the wonderful beginning of a “transformation of life through the renewing of the mind.” Experiencing peace of heart is promised to those who learn and think the TRUTH THAT SETS PEOPLE FREE.
I hope to soon do more writing about Jesus’ promises and identity-thinking. I have blocked off all comment aspects to this blog because of bandwidth limit issues. Sorry about that!
Ran B. Stovall