By David Faust
While driving through an upscale neighborhood recently I noticed a roadside sign that said, “$150 fine for honking.” (Presumably the message was intended for drivers, not geese.) That’s a pretty stiff penalty for disturbing the peace. Clearly the residents don’t want anyone bothering them.
I wonder how they would have reacted to Jesus.
Sometimes he finds it necessary to disturb the peace. Just ask Peter, Andrew, James, and John. Jesus rocked their world. Theirs was a relatively peaceful (and forgettable) existence until Jesus came along and said, “Follow me.” They did follow, and he led them into some not-so-peaceful places. Terrifying storms at sea. Jarring confrontations with hostile religious leaders. Scary encounters with the demon possessed. Surprising excursions through Samaria. Close-up meetings with the desperately ill and with sinners so vile that merely associating with them would endanger your reputation. And along the way, Jesus kept talking about unpleasant subjects like crucifixion and self-denial.
The merchants and money changers knew it wasn’t a passive Prince of Peace who tossed them out of the temple. His encounters with the Pharisees showed him to be a warrior, not a wimp. Like a surgeon’s scalpel, his words cut skillfully into the soul and probed his listeners’ deepest motivations. His teaching caused profound amazement, provoked intense controversy, challenged deeply embedded traditions, and sparked personal transformation.
When necessary Jesus still disturbs the peace today.
He disturbs our peace when we sin. “‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked’” (Isaiah 57:21)—and that’s a good thing. We shouldn’t feel at peace when our lives are out of alignment with the will of God. Unforgiven sin produces soul-aches only God’s grace can soothe.
The Lord disturbs our peace when we become complacent. Sometimes our comfort zones masquerade as peace when in reality we’re just too lazy to change and grow. Halfway is no way to live. Apathy is a path to Hell. Jesus warns anyone tempted to sit on the fence between all-out commitment and unbelief, “So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16).
The Lord disturbs our peace when we feel self-righteous. A phony sense of well-being settles in when we compare ourselves to others and feel superior. But Jesus’ standard of sexual purity goes beyond what we do to what we ponder. His standard of anger management focuses not on outward hurts we inflict but on inward hatreds we nurture. His brand of love compels us not only to refrain from harming our enemies but to actively serve them. Jesus won’t let us be at peace simply because on the outside we appear to have it all together. He says, “You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean”
(Matthew 23:25, 26).
And the Lord disturbs our peace when we refuse to reconcile with others. Did someone offend you? Have your actions hurt someone else? Take the initiative to work things out. “Go and be reconciled to them,” says Jesus. “Settle matters quickly with your adversary,” he insists. “Go and point out their fault, just between the two of you”
(Matthew 5:24, 25; 18:15-17).
Christ is the ultimate peacemaker, but sometimes the only way to make peace is by speaking hard truths. The Lord loves us too much to leave us alone when we hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on our hearts.