One Comment to “Christ BE Your Shalom”

  1. Donald McMahon
    December 17, 2018

    “Christ Be Your Shalom” (Philippians 4:1–9)(12.16.18)
    Philippians 4:1–9 (NIV84)
    Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!
    2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
    4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
    8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
    The word of God for the people of God.
    Title: Christ Be Your Shalom
    First and foremost: We must have peace with God. Otherwise, no other peace is possible. Know Christ, know peace. No Christ, no peace.
    Most of us are not even at peace with ourselves. Isn’t the natural state of a human being one of unrest; uneasiness; dissatisfaction; discontent; malcontent; dissension; a sense of lack and incompleteness? The toddler within us cries out, “Mine, mine, mine.” While in truth, nothing is really ours except for a tiny blip of time.
    Then we are all thrown into this steeping stew with other troubled souls. Circumstances brush up against us like flint against stone until the sparks of conflict end in a conflagration. North against south; east against west; left against right; white against black; atheism against religion; and, humans against God.
    This interesting thought occurred to me: the first time Yahweh, the Great I AM, dealt with the lack of peace throughout the world, it was with the great flood. The second time it was with the shedding of His Son’s blood.
    Every week, the last thing that happens in our worship service is singing the CHORAL BENEDICTION, “Christ be your Shalom.”
    Shalom to you now, shalom, my friends. May God’s full mercies bless you, my friends. In all your living and through your loving, Christ be your shalom, Christ be your shalom.
    Shalom is a Hebrew word of peace. It is more than a lack of conflict. It carries the fundamental meaning of welfare, prosperity, wholeness; a sense of community and connection. It is healthy. It is synonym for what is good.
    And yet, as we leave here and go back into the world, how long before this peace dissolves? In this Advent season, we celebrate the Prince of Peace, it seems fitting that I preach about peace this morning.
    Last Sunday, the Chinese government arrested Pastor Wang Yi of Early Rain Covenant Church along with 100 members of his congregation. We know that from the Garden of Eden until today, the Great Deceiver and Murderer, Satan, has opposed God and the human race. In verse 2, Paul talks about contending for the gospel, which implies opposition. In the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel false prophets who proclaim peace when there is no peace are condemned.
    So, how do we contend for the good news of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, in this world of conflict? What does this peace look like? If this peace of God is beyond our understanding, how can we pursue it?
    The fact of the matter is that there is conflict even within the people of God. The Apostle Paul does not shy away from this truth, but uses this conflict to open our eyes to the possibility of supernatural peace amidst the brokenness of the human condition and a world ruled by the Prince of Darkness. It is interesting to me that Paul starts with a conflict between two believers and champions of the gospel and how it blossoms into this gorgeous orchid of God’s peace filled petals.
    Paul is writing to Christians about Christians. Princeton professor Benjamin Warfield said, “But the cultivation of it [Godly peace] is placed by God’s grace in our hands. Christ may have died for us; the Spirit may have applied that death savingly to us; and yet we may still hold back from the full consciousness of our safety; wrong thoughts and feelings may stand in our way. We are at peace with God; our conscience knows it. But we may so seldom look to Him who is our Peace, and so much to ourselves, that we fail to take the true comfort and joy of our changed position.”
    Paul tells us that joy is integral for peace. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! It is emphasized with repetition and an exclamation mark. Joy in our Lord Jesus is like an umbrella over all that follows.
    When I was a boy, my family did a lot of camping. One particular long weekend we decided to go a little farther away to Cape Cod to camp. There were four of us kids in the station wagon pulling an old utility trailer. Traffic was bad; it was raining; and, my father was doing a lot of complaining and grumbling. Nothing my Mom said seemed to help. I was something of a smart-alec and feeling somewhat bold, I asked, “Dad, why don’t you let a smile be your umbrella?” It got pretty quiet in the car and I began to think I had made an error in judgment. Then Dad smiled and began to chuckle. The rest of the weekend is a happy memory. The circumstances had not changed. It was rainy; but, our state of mind makes all the difference in the world.
    Let your gentleness be evident to all. To all. Some are kind to those outside of their families but are bitter and angry with those closest to them. Others are hostile to those outside their inner circle. As joyful, peace filled Christ followers, we are to be kind and gentle with all.
    The Lord is near. This is one of the great promises of scripture. “I will never leave you or forsake you. I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.” When Jesus is near, the kingdom of God is near. God’s presence changes every circumstance. The night Jesus was arrested, Jesus reassures the disciples: John 14:27 (NIV84) Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. After Jesus’ resurrection, he often reassured the disciples by saying, “Peace be with you.”
    Do not be anxious about anything. Really? Anything? This is only possible through trust and faith. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus taught, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Yes, we are to trust God for the basic necessities of life. That is why we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
    Unfortunately, some Christians are “practical atheists.” We are not so foolish as to say there is no God with our mouths, but we deny God in our living. We limit the Almighty’s sphere of influence. We deny that God’s promises actually apply to us. We seek solutions solely under our own power and understanding. Then we wonder why we always have this itch of anxiousness. Like the itch of eczema it awakens us at night. We toss and turn and we have no peace. Scratch, scratch, scratch. Covers off. Covers on. We awake in the morning as tired as we were when we laid down.
    But in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. In everything; nothing is excluded. Bring every trial, need, pain, praise, relationship, financial issue, heartache, even a hangnail, or a parking spot – Because God is involved in the details of your lives. As joy is to be an umbrella over our lives, thanksgiving is to cover all our communications with God.
    We can even be thankful for the obstacles in our lives. Currently, I am reading Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage. The main character is Philip Carey who was born with a club foot. As a boy, this infirmity made Philip miserable. Not only was he unable to participate in the same activities as other boys, he felt alone and isolated. At a private school, he was bullied over and over again.
    When a new headmaster came to the school, he challenged Philip to think differently about his club foot. “Philip, what if you thanked God for this misfortune?” asked the headmaster. “As long as you accept it rebelliously, it can only cause you shame. But if you looked upon it as a cross that was given you to bear only because your shoulders were strong enough to bear it, a sign of God’s favor, then it would be a source of happiness to you instead of misery.”
    For a time, while Philip held to this mindset, he was a different person. Later, as often happens, he allowed the cares of this world to overcome him instead of overcoming them. Instead of being filled with the cares of this world, our lives should be prayer filled.
    Over everything, cover yourself with an attitude of gratitude. Be thankful. Does God need your thanks? No. Are you bribing God with your thanks? No. You are recognizing that your heavenly Father is the source of all good gifts. This puts your heart in harmony with the truth. Harmony is a state of peace.
    The peace of God, which transcends all understanding. You cannot comprehend it fully. You cannot cognitively receive it in its completeness. But, you can experience it. It is akin to trying to understand the width, length, height, and depth of God’s love that surpasses knowledge – and fills to the measure of all the fullness of God. It is a peace that is possible regardless of circumstances. It is a peace that insulates you from all the lies and heresy of the Enemy.
    What is the outcome of this type of peace? Your hearts and minds will be guarded. Your emotions, inclinations, motivations, and personality will be protected. Your thoughts, the inner workings of your neuron paths, your beliefs, your memories, your reasoning, and your logic are accurate in the light and truth of God’s word. How is this possible? Because you are “in Christ Jesus.”
    Oh my friends, being in Christ Jesus is truly something beyond our understanding. Our salvation is in Christ. We achieve holiness in Christ. We are brought near to the Father in Christ. We are called in Christ. We are established in Christ. We are forgiven in Christ. We are found in Christ. We are freed from the law in Christ. We are glorified in Christ. We are justified in Christ. We are made alive to God in Christ. We are made acceptable to God in Christ. We are made the righteousness of God in Christ. We are predestined in Christ. We are Reconciled in Christ. We are redeemed in Christ. We are rescued in Christ. We are sanctified in Christ. We are saved in Christ. We are sealed in Christ. We are seated in the heavenlies in Christ. We put off the sinful nature in Christ. We receive the blessing of Abraham in Christ. We receive victory over sin and death in Christ. We are renewed in Christ. We can do all things in Christ. We are chosen in Christ. We are circumcised in Christ. We are created unto good works in Christ. We are enriched in speech and knowledge in Christ. We are faithful in Christ. We agree in Christ. We are new creations in Christ. We are rooted and built up in Christ. We are strong in Christ. We are transformed in Christ. We are tested and approved in Christ. We are united in Christ. We have boldness and access in Christ. We have confidence in Christ. We have fullness in Christ. We have hope in Christ. We have liberty in Christ. We have light in Christ. We have love in Christ. We have no condemnation in Christ. We have blessings in Christ.
    Is this your Jesus? Can that Jesus bring you peace? I should think so. Yes, Christ be your Shalom.
    Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. For me, this is one of the most precious pieces of scripture. Notice it follows immediately upon “being in Christ.” Isn’t this concept the opposite of what is practiced in our society today?
    What are the nutrients we are providing our souls? Plants use photosynthesis (which converts solar power to chemical power) to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water. Surely you have noticed that your house plants actually turn their leaves towards the sun to maximize their ability to receive the sunlight. Our thinking about anything that is excellent or praiseworthy is our turning towards the Son of Righteousness, the Lord Jesus. He is the light that came into the world. Let us bask in His presence and feel the peace that is beyond understanding.
    Verse 9 is scary for me. In another place, Paul says, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” I can rationalize a little and think this gives me an “out.” When I fail to imitate Christ, do not imitate me. But here Paul says that my life aligns with everything I teach. Put it into practice. So, Lord, I pray that you keep me on the straight and narrow path that I may not lead anyone astray.
    Yes, put these things into practice. The Bible’s instructions are not theoretical but practical. We try to intellectualize scripture. We debate it and try to make every issue theological. Too often, what we fail to do is put it into practice. We may not get it right at first, but practice makes perfect.
    During my study this week it occurred to me that conflict and strife often come from transactional relationships. We think of the relationship in terms of a scale. You do for me; I do for you; and, it all balances out. In our human weakness and sinful nature, we see that scale as never quite in balance. One side or the other has been wronged and conflict is the result. We thrust our expectations of others on our relationships and we are destined for disappointment.
    When our children are young, we do not treat those relationships as transactional. We are happy to give to our children without an expectation of reciprocity. The only thing we hope for is for their love and their well-being. This is the model provided by our Heavenly Father. All good gifts come from Him. The greatest gift was His Son, the Lord Jesus. Each Christmas Season is about receiving the gift of Jesus and responding to the Father in love.
    Now, we are never told what conflict came between Euodia and Syntyche; and, I believe that was intentional. If it had been specified, human nature would narrow the application and see ourselves outside or above it. Then we would miss the perfect perfume of peace from this orchid that Paul has opened up for us.
    Where are the conflicts in your life that need the peace of Christ? What circumstances should you thank God for because you know and trust God the Father in all aspects of your life?
    Let joy be an umbrella over your life. May your attitude towards God be gratitude and love. And the God of peace will be with you. Let Christ be your Shalom. Let Christ be your shalom.

    Amen and amen. Let us pray.


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