Is it possible to have a supernatural inner peace in such a violent and uncertain world, and if so, how? You might be surprised to find that the answer has less to do with the evil and tragedy in the world, and more to do with the unique way we as humans process all of the negative information we’re getting on a daily basis.
Perhaps the better question to ask is: Does what we watch, read and think about destroy our inner peace?
Today, it seems the news is filled with more and more stories about school shootings, deadly terrorist attacks, and natural disasters. Yet we know that evil and calamity has always existed in our world.
So what has changed? The way we hear about it. We now live in a time where all of the negative stories in the whole world can be in front of our faces in a matter of minutes.
Remember the old saying, "You are what you eat?" The same is true about our thought life. Eventually, we become what we think mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We are the product of our thought life.
What we put in our minds on a daily basis and what we dwell on has a direct impact on how we think and act.
The Apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote instructions to the church in Philippi when they were struggling to find peace in an uncertain world. He teaches them not just how to have peace, but how to experience the Shalom of God. Shalom is more than just peace. It’s complete peace – the feeling of rest, contentment, wholeness, and wellbeing.
He writes: Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)
Paul gives us two commands and one promise. We’re commanded to dwell on what is true and positive. We’re also commanded to habitually make this practice a part of our lives. And the promise is that when we do, God will give us peace.
What is it that you are dwelling on a daily basis when you’re driving in the car, when you’re at work or going throughout your day? Are you dwelling on negative thoughts such as, “I don’t measure up!” and “I’m a failure”? Are you thinking about how the world is evil and hopeless?
Instead of those things, we need to be meditating on what’s true – who God is and who we are in Christ. We’re also to dwell on what is honorable – the holiness of God – and what is morally right and pure, attractive and beautiful, and of good repute. Finally, we’re commanded to practice these things on a regular basis.
A helpful question that I like to ask before watching a program on TV or even before listening to a conversation with someone is: “Is this the truth or a lie?” Another good question I ask is: “Does this honor God or dishonor God?” I’ve found that these questions provide me with a filter through which I can determine what I focus my attention on.
It’s also good to be mindful about how much negative information we’re watching or reading. For some of us, we might need to ask ourselves whether or not we really need to be watching the devastation of the earthquake or terrorist attacks all day long. How much of this is helping us to respond in a loving or positive way, and how much of it is helping us be more cynical and negative?
Notice Paul isn’t saying, “Don’t allow anything negative in your mind.” That’s impossible! What he is saying is that we must choose to habitually focus our thoughts – to dwell – on those things that are positive and that honor God. And when we do, God promises to give us His peace.
This week, we begin the series, Inner Peace: How to Find it and Keep It. In it, we’ll discover the secret to finding inner peace when we’re dealing with the uncertainty of our world, overwhelmed with anxiety, and dealing with relational conflict. It’s my hope and prayer that through this series we’ll experience the God of peace in overflowing abundance and in ways beyond we’ve ever imagined.
Keep Pressin' Ahead,
Chip Ingram, Teaching Pastor
Living on the Edge