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The true “peace of mind”

November 9, 2014

Third Last Sunday of the church yearpaz y seguridad

“Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you,  for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.  While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

 

Peace and safety are two beautiful words. In English there is a very common expression, “peace of mind,” that could be understood as a state of peace and quiet. But this expression is well known to us and it is used for many things. Not only do insurance companies use it, but it is also used by various other services to express the benefits of their service.

The first time I went to get an oil change at the dealer’s garage, I saw a sign that offered a service plan called: “peace of mind”. And at first I smiled at this title. If you opt for this full-service for your car, where they will be performing a full maintenance, theoretically, you should not be concerned about anything else about your car; they will perform all of the required maintenance.

And that is the meaning of that phrase: no more worries, to live safely in peace and without problems.

 

I dare say that the apostle would make good use of that phrase today if he had to explain us this concept again, that letter he wrote to the Thessalonians.

When we are sure that all things are covered and we believe to have reached total peace of mind, economically, materially and even, why not, in health, everything is set for retirement, still something can come suddenly and ruin everything. And there will be no insurance or plan or combo, and no money in the world can cover that. And that which will come is our Lord Jesus Christ and the dreaded or announced end of this world. He speaks of destruction; perhaps the Apostle is referring precisely to the destruction of all security and all peace of mind in the world so that those who struggled during their lifetime for peace of mind find out that those things were not the most important things that they should have sought. All this, however will be finished. It not only ends for the living ones, but also for those who have already died in past times and have not lived a life according to the things of God.

 

It is said that this day, then, will come as a thief in the night. I do not know exactly why the apostle uses this example to describe the nature of that time, but I happen to think it’s similar to the feeling you feel when a thief enters the house to steal. Here it is said that whoever enters is a thief, they are looking to steal something and its dark, that is, we have no way of realizing that we are being stolen from. The feeling of being robbed in this way is horrible. It’s horrible to be stolen from because one feels a sense of injury and pain because of what was lost or destroyed and at the same time one lacks a sense of safety and security. One feels fear, anger, a lack of tranquility and a great sense of being defenceless. It is something unexpected and unthinkable for which you are never prepared.

And maybe those will be the kind of feelings that will accompany those who are not in Christ and have spent their lives securing only material goods and while failing to seek the salvation offered by Christ in the first place. It is this kind of material focus that does not give us salvation and real “peace of mind” in long term.

 

It also tells us, with another comparison, that the time of His coming will be like the labor pains of a pregnant woman. Two things are important to note in this example: the inevitable, and the relative lack of knowledge of when exactly it will happen. At the time of the apostle, this example may have been more helpful than it is today. All they knew at that time was that a woman could have a child after nine months or less. But an exact date was not known. And although predicting natural childbirth is still not an exact science, medical technology does aid in prediction. But still we do not know exactly when a baby will be born. What we do know is that the time is coming, that the time that remains is becoming shorter and that a “delivery” is about to happen.

 

We do not know when this end will be, the second coming of Christ. In the Bible it says, not even the angels of heaven know when the date of the coming of God and culmination of the world will be. Therefore, we must be prepared. Being prepared means that we have given our lives to believing in God by accepting His Son Jesus Christ and committing to live a life in accordance with His commandments. That is to be prepared, no more and no less.

 

We are told that people who have not yet accepted Christ, even though they think they have “peace of mind”, are living in the dark at night, where nothing is visible and things are not clear.

We are told that we must be awake and be sober; other versions say “on watch”. And sober, that’s the word we use for the opposite of “drunk.” When we say let us be sober, we are saying that we have to be able to see, to distinguish and keep watching. The apostle tells us to be alert, or to watch, like a soldier who must stand for guard duty, keep watch and be awake. I remember when I did my military service, I sometimes had to stand guard, especially at night, and I often wondered, “What is the sense of being here, standing for two hours or sometimes longer, without sleep?” When we realize that others can sleep in peace, with “peace of mind” because there are others who are taking care of the watch and the dangers, one understands the reason for the guards. Likewise, staying alert is to take care of ourselves, our integrity in a mostly spiritual sense, so that no danger or “enemy” can overthrow us.

 

And the apostle goes on using a military vocabulary when he talks about a breastplate and helmet. These are two more elements that tell us about the kind of life we have to lead on earth: a life sheltered from an enemy. But our weapons are faith and love which, by the way, still have much more power than any human weapon, principle or tactic, as they are spiritual weapons and are the most powerful. We, as Christians, are part of a spiritual army in God’s kingdom.

Faith and love are our protection and will protect us even in our physical lives. The hope of salvation is placed by the apostle to the height of the helmet, the head. This symbolizes that we must keep our minds, our thoughts and feelings alert. We should care about what we think and feel, as these activities are governed by our mind. We must watch for the quality of our thoughts and feelings so that they are aligned with the word of God, which drives us to always have hope for salvation and to ensure that all those who have believed in Jesus Christ as the Son of God receive the gift of salvation.

So thankfully, we remain alert in every way. With gratitude we want to please God and dedicate all our work solely for His glory. Through thankfulness we want to please him by putting our faith in his word, the Bible, which is the only source of our knowledge of Him, and the source of our faith in Him and, above all things, we do everything possible to perform good deeds according to his commandments

 

In gratitude to Him we want to change our lifestyle or we want to preserve it, if it is the case: by gathering in a community, coming together for our entire lives, filling our minds with the words of life, hope, faith, trust, confidence victory, miracle, power of God, joy, the Holy Spirit and all uplifting words that come from reading the Bible. We remain watchful in prayer, using the powerful and unlimited resource of prayer that God gave us; we want to have a living relationship with God through prayer.

 

With thanks we want to put our trust in God ever more, thereby getting peace of mind on this earth, which is far greater than what is offered by this world that is not in God and that wants to convince us that their way is the right one. We will remain on our guard and take care to get together weekly or as often as possible in our church, as it will be the first thing that will bring us ‘true peace of mind’ and strength.

 

In gratitude to Him we share our faith, through our witness, our words and the invitation for others who may still be in the “night” or “dark” to accept Christ, not because they are necessarily bad people, but because they still live with a ‘peaceful mind’ that is not truly so and have not reached salvation yet. So we encourage one another to continue on this path and to talk about Christ to anyone else. Amen.

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