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July 3, 2022 Transcript

Finding Unconditional Peace -July 3, 2022

Pastor Mike:

It’s dependent on my attitude. It’s dependent on how other people will react to me. It’s dependent on external circumstances. It’s dependent upon behaviors. What I want you to get today is that the peace that Jesus offers is not something that we create, but it is something that we receive by God’s grace.

Welcome to Sundays with the gathering. Thank you for taking the time to join us for this weekly podcast. I’m Mike Zdorow, the pastor of the gathering place. We are a new church in Palm beach gardens, Florida. And our mission is to extend. God’s redeeming love by being a gift to our community. Church is not meant to only be something you attend. We are called to connect Sunday’s faith with the rest of the week, your identity determines your activity. For the past two weeks, we have been reflecting on Colossians chapter three verses 12 to 17 as a lens to understand our identity today, we’ll discover what this Bible passage teaches about how peace can change our lives.

We live in a very high-paced world. I mean, we are, we are programmed to do, to control, to get results. Many of us, when I, when I talk to people about how are you doing? Like, oh, pastor, I’m just running from here to there and, and Adam’s trying to catch up. But sometimes in our, in our very busy world we’re outta touch with what is happening inside of our soul. And so I would like us to take a moment to, to ask some personal questions, just to do a little soul check. In the Wesleyan tradition, we, we ask often, how is it with your soul? So I’m gonna put some, some questions out there. You might wanna write these down or write down the ones that connect with you. And you can either say, that’s me, or even maybe grade yourself, however you decide, but this is an exercise for you to, to check in with your soul. So here we go. Number one, I allow past experiences to limit me, to think and act spontaneously today. Number two, it is difficult for me to enjoy being in the moment.

Number three, it is uncomfortable for me to receive acts of love and care from others. Number four, I tend to be judgmental toward myself. Number five, I frequently feel anxious and worried number six. So I often feel the need to interpret the actions of others. In other words, you’re trying to interpret what are their motives? Where are they coming from? Number seven, I need to be in control. Number eight. I am always in a hurry. Number nine, my body is a knot or I feel physically stressed. And this one you might need to ask the person you live and work with, but I am irritable at home or at work.

If you are identifying with many of these things and, and let’s be honest, we all do to certain degrees and there, there are seasons. But, but what I want you to know today is that this is not how God called you to live. Now while this, these behaviors and these feelings are probably common to a lot of people that you know, and it’s probably normal people say, ah, I, I feel that too, that is normal. I want you to know that that God had a better way in mind in S chapter three, verse 15, this is what we were reminded and let the peace of Christ rule in your heart to which indeed you are called in one body and be thankful, peace, something that we all long for. We crave it. We know when it’s missing, but sometimes we have a hard time identifying it.

And, and so in general, you know, peace, if we were to identify it in a biblical sense is harmony security, safety rest. I like this one. This is one. I get excited – set at one again, wholeness and unity within self and the world within, within we lived, In other words, made right. In The Hebrew version. You know, you look at the word peace, cuz this is a new Testament definition. But in the, in the Hebrew, it is Shalom completeness, wholeness, health, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness fullness, rest, harmony that the absence of agitation or discord. And so again, that, that root of that word Shalom actually comes from this, this word that means complete perfect and full, you know, many times people, we talk about peace. We try to conceptualize peace. And normally the working definition for peace is like the absence of external conflict.

That’s what usually how most people define peace. And so when we have that definition of peace in our lives, we say, okay, I have to be a person of, you know, so therefore we, we start walking on eggshells. Has anyone ever done that? Where you’re just so careful to preserve the peace that you’re careful and you’re mindful of every single word you say, we walk on eggshells. We don’t wanna bring up anything controversial. God, God forbid we ever disagree on anything. And then we do whatever it takes to make the people around us happy. But usually when we do this inside, sometimes we don’t have peace. We might have this external piece, but we don’t have any internal peace. You know, when I ask people about peace, I remember one person saying me. He is like, pastor Mike. When I, when I find peace, I find it when I sleep, you know, cause that way I don’t have to talk to anybody doing anything.

I that’s when I find peace. You know? And then, and then it’s no wonder that, you know, sometimes, you know, the, the old saying that used to be on the tombstones was rest in peace, right? Because we’ve been just living life such a different way that we think that the only time that we can experience real peace is either when we’re sleeping or when we dead. And you know, that is not God’s way. That is not God’s plan. In fact sadly all those examples that I gave to you about how to try to create peace, doesn’t create peace at all. In fact, what’s so scary about those ways of creating peace. It actually creates a false piece that is actually dependent upon us. It’s dependent on my attitude. It’s, it’s dependent on how other people will react to me. It’s dependent on external circumstances.

It’s dependent upon behaviors and we see all this kind of self-help literature out there and about how the, the way to peace and, and how to be mindful so that you could experience peace. But, but here’s what I want you to get today is that the peace that Jesus offers is not something that we create, but it is something that we receive by God’s grace. You see Jesus made peace possible by his life, death and resurrection. And so peace is a way of being not doing. And, and this is so important to who we are, cuz how could we experience this peace? Because when our lives are in Christ, Jesus, right, we have a whole new identity. And we know even from what, what we see in written in Colossians, that we are called and chosen by God, we are holy and beloved. And so we can experience the real piece that Christ offers, not because of just some outside thing or, or that the weather is good today.

Or the bank statement looks great is none of those things are I got all the things checked on my to-do list, but because of the power of the holy spirit within us, when I think about peace and, and I, and I connected with that Hebrew understanding of Shalom, what comes to me most of all, is that, that understanding of Sabbath, what does it really mean to have peace in our hearts? And I’m not talking about just any kind of peace I’m talking about the peace, where, where God makes the all things new, because we know that in Jesus Christ, first of all, we have to understand that the war within our souls and there’s two parts of that war, right? There’s, there’s, there’s that battle sometimes that we have with God that we feel that God’s against us, God’s mad at us. We feel we’re not worthy.

We’re not enough. We have all those kind of things moving inside of our soul, those perceptions. And because of Christ, those perceptions, those false perceptions are just extinguished. And, and we know that that we are in God, that we are loved by God that we have Christ righteousness upon us. But then also we have this war among other people, this disconnectedness, this brokenness. And one thing that, that the Shalom talks about is being made right with all things it’s even being made, right with God’s creation. In other words, it’s entering into those rhythms that God has established for us. You see peace is, is, is rooted in Christ and not in ourselves. And it’s only when our inner world is at peace when we really understand like what God did when we not just understand. Cause we can understand a lot of things, but still have a very big disconnect in our heart.

But when we really experience this piece of Christ, then it affects our external world. It’s not the other way around. So I guess the question that we have to ask ourselves is have you been trying to do peace on your own? You know, sometimes we think to ourselves, if I just pray more, have a better quiet time. If I study more, if I serve more, if I can just control myself more, if my family can just get in order, you know, if I can just get my household in order, if I could have that job that I’ve been longing for, if I can wear the right clothes you know, if I could have, you know, the house or the gadgets of all these things, then when all my wants and desires are satisfied, then I can have peace again, peace equals rest. And rest comes from a, a real sense of Sabbath. And I guess this is, these are just some little, little things to check in our souls, to check in our hearts, to see how we’re doing.

Do you rest from your work? Is that your mentality? Because the danger of that is when we rest from our work, you know, here’s what we do. We, we run hard, right? I mean, I mean, it’s full throttle just to get to the weekend, right? I just gotta push it, get through, get all those things done, get all those assignments done, get all my meetings done, do everything, get, get the housework done. And then when I get my weekend, I can rest. And then I can, you know, I can come to church and I can just, you know, live like hell all week and then experience heaven for an hour. And it becomes like this unhealthy addiction. It’s a very addictive behavior to live like this. And we think that’s what Sabbath is. It’s just to, to, to slow down and stop from all the, the nonsense we’ve been doing for the rest of the week.

But what if Sabbath is something more than that? What if Sabbath is working from a place of rest in our soul, do you see the difference? Do you, again, you got to ask yourself, you know, do you rest from your work or are you working from a place of rest in your soul? There’s a reason why this is the first day of the week. There’s a reason why this is when we start everything, right? It goes back to the beginning of creation. You know, when God was creating the world, we see in the beginning, there was God perfect harmony, perfect rest. And then God began to create. And at the end of God’s good creation on the seventh day, God then stopped again. There was God. Again, you see that’s the, the rhythm that we need to establish in our life to, to work from a place of rest, not, not get rest from our work.

A lot of times we have our priorities mixed up. A lot of times, you know, we have our values mixed up and, and in the scripture we’re, we’re called and we’re invited to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. That’s the deepest seat of your emotion. That’s at the core essence of, of who you are, but this word rule, we have a problem with it, right, man. I mean, I mean, we’re, I mean, for God’s sakes, we live in America. This is the land of independence, right. You know, we’re celebrating freedom right now, freedom from being ruled. Right. But yet we’re invited to let the peace of Christ rule in our heart, which means that we have to submit to something that’s greater than ourselves. When I think about rule. Okay. Cuz you know, we start looking up these words of rule and all that we think of ruler.

Right. But, but again, for our, for our American sensibilities, we have a problem with that, you know, but let’s look at some other ways of thinking about rule. Like what can the, the word of Christ, you know, rule, like when I think of rule, I think of a measuring stick. I think of that straight line. Many of us could attempt and you know, you may, you can do this now just to get it in your mind. But if you ever tried to, to draw a straight line on a piece of paper that is not ruled, some of you could do pretty good cuz you, you know, you’ve had a lot of practice, but still, if you, if you put it against a ruler, it’s not right. Yeah. It’s the same when like, you know, little kids, when we start learning how to write, you know, what do we do?

We give ourselves ruled paper, right? And we, and we learn how to write in straight lines and see the neat thing about these lines or these rules or these rulers is you’re invited to stay close to the line. The line never moves the line. Doesn’t move, you move with the line. And even when you start to get creative and start, you know, those are you guys who do all kinds of drafting work and all that, right. You have to be, you have to learn how to stay close to the line. If not, your line’s get, get all messed up. See the neat thing about the, the, this rule is that, and we’ve missed this all the time or at least I miss this is that sometimes I think it’s, it’s all about me. And what’s so neat is no matter whether I’m close to that line and I’m following the rule and I’m allowing Christ to rule my life or I’m further, further away from it. It does not change anything about who Christ is.

Christ is complete. Christ is one and he invites us to experience life like that. And the neat thing about like, you know, writing and, and drawing and drafting with using these, these instruments of ruled paper and, and rulers and any other kind of fancy thing you use to get a straight line or to get a, to get a plum line, you know, on any kind of measurement, which in order to build anything successful, you have to have, you know, plum lines. It’s, it’s just the way things are. The more you, you, you do this, you train yourself, right. And you get more familiar with it and you’re, you’re accustomed to it. And the problem, I think with a lot of us today of why, when I’m talking about these this notion of peace that Christ offers. And when we look at our lives, honestly, there’s this true disconnect is that because we’ve been conditioned to not rely on the rules and not rely on the lines.

So to not rely on something that’s absolute as Christ you see like, think about even like the American way, you know, at the heart of our identity as a nation, you know, we talk about this manifest destiny, right? You remember that from school, the manifest destiny, which was this notion that if you work really hard, you know, you pull yourself up by your bootstraps. You, you, you adhere to the Protestant work ethic that, that you’re destiny, all these things will come. And, and as, as we explore, and as you keep going out, you know, west, you, you can just, just take what you want and, and, and take demean over this. You know, you make your destiny yourself. And it’s ingrained in us that when Jesus invites us to live from a place of our calling, it sounds so foreign. It feels uncomfortable. But actually when you live from your calling or live from your true identity in Christ, that’s when this, we allow the spirit of God to, to breathe into us.

We have a hard time even breathing sometimes as we’re such in our rush, right. You know, hurrying up from there, hurrying up there. But, but if you go back from the beginning, when God created human beings, the scripture says that God breathed into them and they became human beings. I think so much, you know, these days were so conditioned to be human doings, that we don’t know what it means to be. And society, you know, has taught us that we don’t want anybody to rule us. Society has taught us that you don’t need anyone. And today, in fact, I mean, like I was learning this, you know, little bit just this this past week about this, this concept. I mean, there there’s these this, this concept called the radical individualism you ever heard of this. And and, and one thing about the radical individualism, which is sociological term, you know, they say that it’s very isolating.

It’s lonely. It actually, you start seeing traits of narcissism, come, come out of this. And here’s where some of the roots of this radical individualism comes from. It’s an insecure reaction to trauma, a response from not having our needs met. It comes from a very insecure place. So, so that even how radical individual individualism affects our communities is that we feel like our communities are not stable. Our communities are not reliable. I can’t, I can’t rely upon anyone to help me. And so therefore you don’t expect your community to meet your needs or to care for you for you. And you think that you need to care for yourself. And the danger is that when we live in this environment of radical individualism, which is like all throughout everything that we experience all the time, there’s actually a mental health condition called hyper individualism, which has a lot of the same attributes, but it’s more acute to the personal level.

And what happens is, is that we, we long to work from this place of security, but what happens is we feel like we never have it. We can’t get it from anyone else. And hence the anxiety, the cycle of anxiety just comes. And we, and we, and we move from that place. And we, we work and we hurry. I mean, how many times have we been to churches where we know that we are loved and are called to be known and seen by God and each other, but yet we prefer to be anonymous. We don’t wanna let people in, we don’t wanna let people know that we’re hurting or vulnerable. And you see what Christ reminds us is that he is our security. And without a true sense of security, there is no peace. And what happens is when you feel like you don’t have any peace and you’re not rooted in the security of Christ, we go back to our primal instincts.

You know, those, those carnal behaviors of fear, anxiety, the, the fight or flight instincts, you know, inside of us, instead of being at rest in God, listen to this invitation from Jesus. Are you tired? Worn out, burned out on religion, come to me, get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me, watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill fitting on. You keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. Wow. That was good. Just reading that makes me feel better. Yeah, doesn’t it? Yeah. You know a lot of times when, at least in my spiritual journey, when I would hear this, you know, I would equate it and it does equate to surrendering or submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Right? But sometimes when we, when we think about the Lordship of Jesus Christ, we get a little religious and legalistic. We think about this following the rules, but maybe this is an invitation to not just submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, which we all do. But have you allowed yourself to submit to the care of Christ?

Hmm. That God loves me so much. That God sees all of my knees, those deepest longings I have within my soul. And that I can trust that God cares about me. That’s a whole new, different take on, on Lordship. You see, when, when we submit to the care of Christ, not only do we allow God to love us, but we allow to receive care and love from other people. And we trust now this is, this to me is a big jump that a lot of us have a hard time. And even I struggle with this when I forget who I am in God, and I try to do things myself. But when we submit to the care price, we also understand and trust that God will take care of all the things that we need and, and long for and hope for, because we are ultimately God’s responsibility. Do you hear that? Like you don’t. I mean, yes, there’s a, there’s a personal responsibility that we have, but, but ultimately in all things you belong to God and God is responsible to, to care for you to give you everything that you need. Man. I tell you what, when I was running from Jesus, if I heard that from somebody that Hey, you know, going to church is not about being just religious and rituals, but it’s actually about submitting to the care of Christ and trusting that God takes care of me. Wow. That’s salvation.

Let us continue to which indeed you are called in one body. See, there’s this, the relationship between the, the ruling, the ruling piece of Christ or allowing Christ to the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts and being part of the body of Christ the community. See, in the beginning, God says, let us make humanity in our image and the lightness of ourselves as Genesis 1 26. And the use of that plural pronoun seems to be amazing. It’s a, it’s a, a deep time based initiative based on, on God that Christians would later understand this as the Trinity. You know, when we see, you know, that that plural pronoun, we start to later understand as, as, as the tri Trinity, which is the revelation of the nature of God as community, father, son, holy spirit, a a, a relationship itself, a, a mystery of perfect giving and receiving.

And we come to know who God is through exchanges of knowing and loving you see, that’s the thing that sometimes we miss, we think it’s just about just reading or follow rules, but we actually have a sense of who God is through these exchanges of loving and knowing you see God’s basic method. I’m, I’m borrowing right now from Richard roar, but God’s basic method of communicating God’s love is not through the saved or the rightly informed believer or even a person with a career in ministry, but here’s how God does it at the basic level. God initiates in community. This love. He initiates it in marriages, in friendships and families and tribes and nations and schools, organizations, and churches who are seeking to participate in God’s love maybe without even consciously knowing it and until, and unless Christ is experienced as a living relationship between people, the gospel remains largely in AB abstraction.

And see, I think that’s the, the, the heart of who we are at the gathering place is that, you know, we, we, we want to connect this love and experience that we have on Sunday with Monday’s work. We don’t want it to be some kind of abstract principle that, oh, God loves us, or I’m called to extend. God’s redeeming love, but I, but I can’t even put any, any meat on that until Christ is passed on personally through faithfulness and forgiveness toward another through concrete bonds of union. I doubt whether he has passed on this is what Richard war says by words, sermons or institutions, or even ideas. You see the love of Christ he passed on in a very concrete way. And, and part of that, the, the, the basic of it is just learning how to forgive, learning, how to be faithful to each other.

And that’s why allowing the, the peace of Christ to rule our hearts is so essential to being in community. It’s tied with it. And in the last part, and be thankful, we know this, we, we sing about this, right. But, but everything that we know and have that, that it’s in that we think that we possess is not from somebody else. I mean, it’s not from ourselves. I mean, I was just thinking, even though I was taking a shower, I was like, oh Lord, I thank you. You know, so much for having this clean water. And I realized that I wouldn’t have that clean water. If somebody didn’t get that water from somewhere, if somebody didn’t purify that water, if people didn’t lay the pipes, I can have that water and Philippians were reminded, do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition with Thanksgiving, present your request to God and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ.

Jesus, you see the heart of gratitude or the heart of thankfulness is essential. Just as that notion of that without security, we, we lack peace because we have this sense of, of scarcity, why it’s so important to be thankful. And, and sometimes we just have to do little exercises of like, even maybe starting your day and just write those five things that you are thankful for. Because when you have a heart of, of, of, of thankfulness or gratitude, it helps us to see God’s provision and presence in our lives. And we can only do that unless we start to slow down and trying to recognize this to, to observe these things and what will happen to us. If we slow down, if we acknowledge like our new identity and, and literally start living into our identity, instead of this other thing that’s been trying to put upon us, I think we’ll like live into the words that Jesus said on sermon of the mouth, blessed that are the peacemakers for, they will be called children of God.

See, this is our identity. This is what people will, will start calling us. It’ll start seeing us as when, when Christ peace rules our life, because we’ll be at peace with God and we’ll be at peace with others. And then therefore we model peace in all that we do. So what does that mean for us today? When I submit to God’s care and submit to God’s goodness and, and, and Lordship it and allow this peace to enter my heart and allow me to be at peace with myself. I think that begin. That means how can we begin to be at peace with others? If we’re not at peace with ourselves, when we do this kind of thing, and we are awakened to it. And that’s what I pray that God’s grace right now would awaken us to this new reality to our new identity.

Then we understand that we’re not in control, cuz we’re under God’s care. And then here’s something that you need to hold onto. You know, when we talk about submitting to peace, you can’t just desire. It, it doesn’t come by just desiring it, you know, oh, I desire peace, but you don’t, but nothing changes. You have to receive it. You have to yield to it. You have to accept it. And the reason why it’s so critical is because you and I were made for peace. Do you hear me? We were made for peace. And we look at the herds and pains in our world. We see that there’s an absence of this piece. You know, we started out with the, that personal inventory of kind of what was missing or hurting in our lives. But now I’m gonna read with you 12 symptoms of the, of having inner peace, number one, a tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears.

Based on the past experiences. When you have peace, you have an unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment. Number three, when you have this piece, you lose that interest in judging yourself. In fact, number four, you lose an interest in judging others. Number five, there’s a loss of interest in conflict. There’s a loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others. Number seven, a loss of the ability to worry. Wow. Can you imagine that? Can you, can you imagine losing the ability to worry, losing the ability? I mean, I never thought of worrying as an ability, but I guess it is, you know, losing the ability to worry. And then I love this number, number eight have frequent overwhelming episodes of appreciation, overwhelming episodes of appreciation in my life.

You have these feelings of connectedness with others in nature, frequent attacks of smiling through the eyes of the heart. And then you have this susceptibility to love, to extend this love by others. And as well as this under controllable, you know, ability. So you can receive this love and you can extend it. And it’s not something that you do or you decide to do. It’s just, you just can’t control it. It’s just part of who you are and how many of you would like this, or maybe you’re already in this, but look at this and increasing tendency to let things happen rather than to make them happen.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. So I guess the question, the big question today that we have to ask ourself, or I’m asking you, who is ruling you today, who is ruling you today. I wanna invite you to surrender to the rule of Jesus, which means trusting and surrendering and submitting to the care of God, because God is so good. And God’s love is so great. If any of you need that care right now. And when we saw the two lists, you know, the, the characteristics of the anxious and hurried life, the life without peace, and then one that is ruled with that inner piece. If there is a disconnect there, I wanna invite you to come to Jesus. So Lord Jesus, we love you. And we thank you. And we thank you that our identity in you is that we are loved.

We are holy and we are called and chosen Jesus. We, we are tired of, of doing things our way or by our own strength or even trying to make our own peace when you are the ultimate peacemaker. So Jesus, before we receive holy communion, we just, we surrender to you and we give you full reign. We’re gonna disclose everything before you got our lives are laid open before you right now. There’s no hiding from you. We’re tired of hiding. We’re tired of wearing the mask. God, we just want to come home. Find that rest for our soul. We want that invitation. So Jesus, right now we surrender to your rule and also to your care. And we trust that we’ll experience your holy spirit, that you’ll forgive us of all of our sin, that you’ll write every wrong God that you’ll redeem every pain and you’ll use it for your glory. Jesus, we belong to you. I belong to you. Amen man.

Hannah Hunter:

Hey, beautiful people. This is Hannah Hunter. I’m the director of digital reach here at the gathering place in Palm beach gardens. Thank you for joining us this week. We love getting to share our journey in Christ and community with you. And if you’re in the Palm beach area, we would love to get to connect with you in person at our Sunday worship service at 1115, for more information about our community and face, check out our website at Thanks for listening.