A woman with dark circles under her eyes and a simple ponytail does her level best to provide the best for her family. After work she picks up the kids then heads to the grocery store which carries organic produce and fair trade goods. Even though the prices are more expensive than the other store down the street, she knows she is giving her family the best quality food. At the check-out counter there are several magazines about topics such as yoga, astrology, and Buddhism.
After the meal she turns on HGTV. She’s a big fan of decorating and color and new ideas to make her home feel warm and inviting. Her house is about 10 years old and has had small DIY improvements but she never seems to feel at rest in her own home. She hopes each new project will help corral the chaos and make it feel like an ordered, yet warm space. This show finally explains that discontent. The host says there is a sense of balance and peace in a living area that can only be achieved through Feng shui. She thinks maybe when there is the right balance of wood and natural textures and clutter is removed then the home will feel peaceful. She does a Google search to further research Feng shui and bags up some “clutter” to donate to Goodwill.
She tucks her little ones in bed, then does a few yoga stretches her doctor said may help her relax and have restful sleep.
This woman is longing for peace and rest. This woman is a Christian.
In popular culture the symbol of a person in the lotus position as the epitome of someone who has discovered a true sense of peace and rest. A moment of tranquility is a “Zen moment.” With all this talk about peace there is no talk of faith, just a general absorption of fact: this lifestyle of yoga, meditation, and simplicity will bring a sense of internal calm and centeredness in our chaotic lives.
The search for inner peace is understandable. As of this writing one in eight Americans is currently on anti-anxiety medication (National Institute of Heath.) We are in the process of recovering from a lengthy recession which has meant the loss of jobs and homes, downsizing for some, bankruptcy, and more multi-generation families living under one roof just to make ends meet. Financial strain and the associated arguments have caused many couples to divorce. With such stress all around, it is important to know where to find inner peace.
Urban Dictionary describes Zen as A. “a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind” or B. “complete and absolute peace.” (Zen is associated with Zen Buddhism.)
Judeo-Christianity also has its own special word for peace: Shalom. This word has a wide variety of meanings including to be safe, sound, healthy, perfect, complete (1Ki 7:51, Neh 6:18.) Shalom also extends to peace with God, a relationship Zen does not address.
For personal peace to exist there must be an acknowledgement that the short comings I see in myself and the worries I have about the future are taken care of somehow. That can only happen with an acknowledgement of God and his son, Jesus, who the Bible calls the Prince of Peace.
In John 14:27 Jesus told his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
Peace is a gift the Lord wants to give us through the power of the Holy Spirit, but few believers embrace it. Believers don’t seem to have an attitude of inner peace and rest figured out. Many are afraid of change and the influences society at large. Moms bite nails and pray for their kids to avoid being polluted by the world. They hole up in church groups and Bible studies readying for the end of the world. Fear and isolation have not proven attractive to society at large, so ownership of the term “peace” has been given to Eastern religion. Somewhere along the lines many Christians have lost sight of the Biblical call to find our peace with self from our relationship with God.
While Eastern practices require emptying of oneself; for the Christian there is work involved. It is the ultimate in replacement therapy.
First, there is capturing of worrisome thoughts and replacing them with Truth.
Old Pattern of Thinking: “The world just keeps getting worse and worse. What will it be like for my grandchildren when they’re adults?”
New Pattern of Thinking: “The Lord made my children/grandchildren and He loves them more than I do. God is trustworthy.”
Such replacement therapy is best explained in Philippians 4:8: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things (NIV.)
Secondly, meditation. Meditation for a believer in Christ can include several things. It is not a process that requires self-focus, but God focus. It can be the simple repetition of Scripture or Bible memorization. Galatians 5 says It is letting go of worry and fear and replacing negative thoughts with a focus on the attributes of God. Washing your mind in thoughts such as, “God is worthy. He is just. He is Creator of Heaven and Earth” help push aside temporal things.
Third, create a home of beauty and simplicity for God’s glory. Christians should be aware that some of the principles of Feng shui are based on Taoist philosophy used to determine which area of a home is positive/negative and/or how decor and furniture should be arranged. For the Christian, there is no such thing as the “perfect spot” on earth, because our home is not in this world and the kingdom of God is not this life in this place (John 18:36; 1 Corinthians 7:31). Rather, Christians should be concerned with glorifying God in their homes. In addition, Minimalism and decluttering which can lead to a lifestyle of generosity is most certainly a wonderful way to glorify God.
Inner peace and a sense of calm, though important, is not an end in and of itself. It is only truly possible when it includes peace with Almighty God.