Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I Have a Peace About It

There is something that has come to my attention lately as I witness Christians arguing for positions or justifying their decisions or their behavior, either verbally or in the blogosphere. I'm sure it isn't new...but it keeps popping up in front of me, and thus I feel constrained to write about it.

What is it?

It is the use of certain cliches as argument. In particular, I hear "I feel God wants me to..." or "I felt led by God to..." or "I prayed and fasted and had a peace about it." These arguments are supposed to be show-stoppers in that they invoke an image of a finite, sinful human being acting upon God's will when making a decision. Because a person has an emotion that validates his choice, he determines that it must be God's will...especially if he has done something spiritual in trying to arrive at that decision...something like praying or fasting. The granddaddy of them all is the third example. This person prayed and fasted (good things that are to be commended), but then made his decision because of an emotion, a peace. And woe be it to the person who challenges their decision, for you are challenging their feelings and emotions...and that is not allowed in today's society. In fact, these types of arguments are not much more than Christian versions of the post-modern argument, "what's true for me isn't necessarily true for you"...because "who are you to say that my feelings are wrong?!"

We desperately need to get back to objective truth!

Let's be real and understand that in most of these cases, the decision was already made and now needed to be justified. If a person is under the stress of making a decision, he will have a peace when the decision is made, simply because the stress is gone and the decision is made. There is no guarantee that peace is from God and is confirmation of a correct decision.

So how should a decision be reached?

The answer is a simple one: Search the Scriptures for the commands, principles, and precepts that apply and then do what God says in His Word! Will you "have a peace about it?" Maybe. In a difficult decision in which the answer causes you to buck societal customs and be separate from the world, you may not have a peace about it. In fact, depending on the amount of persecution you are likely to experience, you may be more worried than before! But, in faithfully following the direction of God through His Word, you will be able to rely upon His grace, His mercy, and His help in getting through whatever hard times may come as a result. Imagine the glory God gets in such decisions and their results! Imagine the closeness you will feel when you are forced to put your entire trust in God! Imagine how much better you will know God! Imagine what the experience will do to your testimony of your faithful Savior!

In short, if you are using feelings to make life-decisions or if you hear someone use these sort of "feeling-based" phrases in an argument, you are very likely misled. Remember, "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9, ESV). If you have "a peace about it in my heart"...you have no assurance it is from God. On the other hand, if you go just a few verses earlier in Jeremiah, you find "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is in the Lord" (Jeremiah 17:7, ESV). In the Hebrew, a repeated word or phrase indicates emphasis, like when we use bold or italics. Jeremiah is being very emphatic when he says a man who trusts in the Lord is blessed.

So rather than depending upon feelings which may arise from a deceitful, sick heart, depend upon the Lord who has revealed His will in His Word. Search the Scriptures. Do the hard work. Pray for Scriptural guidance. And then act upon what God says through His Word. In doing so you are trusting in Him...and will be blessed!

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