THE PLEASURE IMAGE
AND THE PEACE OF GOD
While the road to the City of God is lined with all kinds
of wonderful samples of the glory that lies ahead, itís
certainly true that the glory we now see is incomplete.
We see through a glass dimly. We know only in part,
prophesy only in part.
And itís also true that as we travel we hit dry stretches.
We come to deserts of frustration and valleys of sorrow.
So itís not surprising that as we pass through hard times
the enemy comes along and flashes before our mindís eye
a pleasure image which offers us a shortcut to satisfaction.
ó if weíre walking a road thatís lonely,
perhaps even while weíre surrounded by
family and friends, weíll be shown a
picture of a paradise of endless sexual
pleasure. Look around you at the ads,
billboards, television, your own imagination,
ó if weíre having trouble paying the bills,
weíre given a promise of luck and fortune
and shown some way to keep the hope alive
with lottery tickets or T.V. giveaways,
- if weíre bored with where we are, weíre
shown a thousand unreal ways to get out
of this hole and go places.
These needs for food, love, money, a change of scenery
are not evil in themselves, But when they are magnified
to the point where they become the meaning of life we
are spiritually sick.
The "Pleasure Image" ó we know itís a lie,
we know where it leads,
we know what happened to the
Israelites when they dreamed of meat and got it, when
they made the golden calf and had their orgies. On all
sides we see the wrecks of lives that pursued the
pleasure lie and we know what has happened to us every
time we have given reign to these impulses. Yet, we
still keep going back for more. We look at the pleasure
image and complain:
"How dull our life is."
"If only my husband werenít such a blob!"
"If only my wife had a little snap!"
"If only I had a decent job!"
"If only I could get away to that deserted
island and sit under a palm tree and watch
the waves roll in."
The more we dwell on our favorite pleasure image, the more
our self-pity increases and our impatience with those
And it wonít help to take a cold bath or wear a hair shirt
or fast for twenty-one days---not for this. And donít
think we twentieth century saints are the only ones who
have this problem. Thereís never been a believer who
hasnít. Peter had to contend with this pleasure image too,
and the apostles, and the women. But there was one
thing that saved them.....
In the presence of Jesus and in the words and
Spirit of Jesus they experienced, and we can
too, a satisfaction,
In the presence of Jesus they tasted Godís peace ---Godís
peace ---itís the only cure.
Of the increase of his government and peace
there shall be no end.
The peace they experienced in the presence of Jesus was
not like any peace they had known before. It was not the
peace of tranquil circumstances since everywhere Jesus
went there was always disruption. In that sense He didnít
come to bring peace but a sword.
It was the peace of God which was upon Jesus as He went
about doing the Fatherís will. And there is no pleasure
in all the world that can compare with even a momentary
taste of that peace.
God alone knows who on this earth is able to appreciate
His peace. But thereís many an alcoholic who needs only
a whiff of that peace and heís done with the bottle.
Many a man or woman whose life is warped beyond recog-
nition by lust or whose mind is a madhouse of perverse
fantasy who needs only to taste Godís peace to know that
this alone is the satisfaction worth going after.
Many a Nicodemus whoís up to his ears in
religion will quickly turn his life around
in exchange for that peace.
Many a Levi will joyfully say goodbye to
his financial enterprises forever to walk
with those who dwell in that peace.
to give light to those who sit in
darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.
And when John the Baptist pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of
God who takes away the sin of the world he was pointing
to Him who has come to guide our feet into the way of
When Jesus first sent them out by twoís He instructed them
to say to whatever house they entered, "Peace be to this
house. And if a son of peace is there your peace shall
rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you." So
they went out with peace and they came back with peace.
ó Peace that can settle a storm on Galilee
as if it were a crying infant. "Peace,be still!"
ó Peace that can quiet a troubled conscience
in the same way. "Your sins are forgiven.
Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."
When Jesus came back from the dead His first words to His
disciples, "Peace be with you!", and peace filled that room
like light and washed over their minds like healing waters.
There are really only two things in this world that promise
us satisfaction: The pleasure image of Satan,
and the peace of God.
Now we know that the pleasure image is a lie, that it only
leads to more hunger, frustration and misery. Yet, we fall
for it again and again and we always will, until we learn
to open our hearts to the peace of God. To open our hearts
to the peace of God means three things:
1. Receive it.
"Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you."
But if we donít receive it, if we donít let it in, if we
donít welcome it, what can His peace do but stand there
at the door and wait. If someone loves you you can receive
that love or you can reject it. Likewise with Godís peace.
We can receive it, or we can reject it.
ó We can stand there looking at the glass
of water, or we can pick it up and drink it.
ó We can hear the words with our ears, or we
can take them into our hearts.
"Lord, I donít understand what itís all about but I
want your peace. I take hold of it now with heart and
2. To open our hearts to Godís peace means to let it
Itís up to us whether peace rules our hearts. We make
it peace or war by turning from those thoughts, words,
and deeds that drive that peace out of us.
We soon know the things that drive Godís peace from us.
Nothingís worth having or doing if it robs you of Godís
Did you ever notice how, after youíve gotten off some
juicy gossip, your peace is gone? How often turning away
from someoneís cry for help the room where you sit may be
quiet but your heart isnít.
To do whatever you have to do to keep Godís peace, or
to bring it back, thatís what it means to let it rule.
3. To open our hearts to Godís peace means to live it.
"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall
be called the children of God."
When you walk into a home and the people in that home are
dwelling with each other in peace you know that God is
there. And, when they have differences,
when there is tension or disagreement they
canít stand to let it go on. They have to resolve these
things in peace. You wonít find God in a house of dis-
sension. Striving,biting, devouring, grumbling,
criticizing, drives the presence of God from our
midst. Better to give in,to yield, to deny ourselves
in order to work and minister in His peace.
War we have all around us and we always will until Messiah
comes. But in the shadow of our Lordís cross there has
got to be peace. Not just saying, "Peace, peace," when
there is no peace, but truly the peace of God flowing forth
from us and through us like a healing stream.
"Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to
you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.
What the world gives always turns out to be
something different from what it seemed. What
I give never changes.
"I give you my peace,
let it rule your heart,
and you will be satisfied."