Searching For Peace In All The Wrong Places

Jesus taught, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid" (John 14:27 ESV).

You might not know Abraham Maslow, but his thinking has really hijacked the way that we pursue peace. In an article in 1943, he argued that we can't be self-actualized people until we have a good self-esteem. And we can't have a good self-esteem until we have love and belonging. And we can't experience love and belonging until we have our need for safety met. And we can't have our safety met until we have our bare minimum physiological needs met. One need met builds on the top of others until we have arrived at our goal in life. Generally, I would agree with this idea, but Jesus is the trump card. Instead of helping us traverse through Maslow's hierarchy of needs to finding the great life, Jesus just catapults us over the needs right into the midst of a great life.

Peace isn't found on the other end of our needs being met. It's about us being in the will of God. It's about having Jesus. The word translated peace can be understood as wholeness or completeness. Peace is found when one is made whole.

Think of it as our bodies. When you hurt a finger or a thumb, you realize how much it hurts to not be whole. If you lose a leg or an arm, you can still make do, but not being whole makes things much more difficult. Peace is wholeness. It's when we are completed. It's not when everything is perfect. It's not when all our needs are met. It's when we are whole.

In Liberia, I met this lady named Hawa. They call her Mother Hawa. During the Liberian Civil Wars, she found herself in a refugee camp in Nigeria for fourteen years. She didn't have her needs met. Her family was gone. She was alone. She was hungry. Safety wasn't even close to guaranteed. Yet she stepped out in faith and started an orphanage there in the middle of that refugee camp. She would meet needs. She would bring safety. She would love. She took in nearly one hundred kids and spent her life taking care of them.

One night during my recent trip to Liberia, I sat down with Mother Hawa outside the school in Johnsonville and we chatted for around an hour. Here I was, the rich American. Blessed beyond her greatest imaginings. Each of you, blessed beyond her greatest imaginings. And I was sitting by this sweet, precious fifty-year old lady who has spent most of her life taking care of orphans in a nation that produces a lot of orphans. She may not be as physically rich as us, but spiritually, she is a giant, who has every right to look down on me and all I have in a world where some have so little. Yet she doesn't. She is filled with love.

I heard her life's story. And what a life. She is freed from the refugee camp, but she still pursues her calling. She runs an orphanage now in Liberia. In the midst of despair and hopelessness, she found peace. Not through having some hierarchy of needs met. She found peace in the midst of not having her needs met. Instead of working her way up to the top of the hierarchy of needs, Jesus carried her straight to the top. He says that you may not have your needs met. You may go a day or days without food, but I am going to use you to give food to others. You may not feel safe at night, but I'm going to use you to bring safety to others. You may not have a family, but I'm going to use you to be the family to others. And in that, she finds peace. What a beautiful, sacred peace. I was blessed to be in the presence of it.

Jesus claims to give us peace. But have you ever notice that at times you feel like something is missing? That you are called to something that you currently aren't experiencing? That you haven't found peace even as a follower of Jesus? That's when you should look at Jesus' hierarchy of needs.

We want to be blessed, but we shouldn't pursue blessings. We should pursue being a blessing. We want to find peace, but we shouldn't pursue peace. We should live a life forgiving and loving others. We want to be loved, but we shouldn't pursue being loved. We should pursue loving others.

We must pursue Jesus. Pursue His will. Pursue His plan for our life. He will lead us to love, which will lead us to peace, which will lead us to blessings. That hole we have can only be filled by passionately pursuing loving Jesus and loving others more. Lasting Peace is not found outside of Jesus; it is found in Him. In Him we can be whole.