Christians claim to have a lot of things. They claim to believe in grace, mercy, love, forgiveness, and much more. The result of what we believe shows up in the reality of our lives. The New Testament letter of Galatians states that the overflow of the experience of knowing God shows up in our lives as fruit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23a
The absence of experiencing the depth of being loved, forgiven, and freed also shows up in our lives. It appears as the absence of fruit and instead the presence of varied pains, struggles, and heartaches. The following 5 ways to know you may not have real peace is part 2 to the previous blog: 10 Ways to Know You May Not Have Real Peace – part 1.
6. I have trouble turning my mind off
One of the clearest signs that we are not experiencing genuine rest is the inability to turn our mind off. I know the reality of this struggle. You wake up in the morning and your mind begins to churn. You lay down at night and you can’t make the thoughts stop. You’re driven with what needs to be done, what you ought to be doing, what others ought to do. Somehow you’ve assumed the responsibility for it all. Somehow you think it all hinges on you. And God invites us once again to the place of rest. He’s in control. He has a plan. He isn’t holding you responsible for all things. There is peace.
7. I struggle with making decisions
When we’re not rest, decisions become impossible roadblocks. When we’re driven by fear and worry about which is right, which will please God, which will be more spiritual, which will bring more blessing, then we have missed the point. We have left the place of rest and blessing that is already ours in Christ and returned to the place of thinking it all depends on me. This condition of the heart makes decisions in the mind virtually impossible.
8. I do “good” things because I have to, not because I want to
One of the things that seemed to have brought the greatest sadness to Jesus was to see people living under the obligation, demands, and duty of relating to God. He said that He had come to set these kinds of captives free. The heart that knows the past is forgiven, the law is fulfilled, and that they have been made pleasing already to God does what it does out of love. There is no more law to fulfill. There is nothing to be done to further please God. Worship, giving, praying, and Bible study are not things we do because we have to. They are meant to be the overflowing expression of a heart that has been set free!
9. I expect bad things to happen if I’ve done bad things
While most Christians say they don’t believe in karma, but many life with thinking that there is a directly correlation between the things they do and the way God feels toward them. They think that troubles are the result of not praying enough, giving enough, or reading their Bible enough. The problem with this view is that it flies in the face of the fact that God demonstrated the depth and fullness of His love toward us while we were still sinners. Full love and blessing were given to us in Christ while we were undeserving. God turns upside down the way we think and relate. He gives good when there is bad. He forgives instead of condemning. Where there is greater sin, He offers greater grace. Knowing this reality frees me from a condition of fear over making the wrong decision, having weakness, or failing.
10. I expect good things to happen if I’ve done good things
The other side to the Christian version of karma is the idea that if we do good things, then we gain greater favor and blessing from God. This is a commonly taught message in the church. It says, “Honor God and He will honor you.” “Give and He will bless you.” “Seek to please Him and He will bless you.” While these sound right and even fit into much of Old Testament practice, it is completely inconsistent with the theology of the New Testament. The fullness of God’s favor has already been shown to us in Jesus Christ. There is no greater blessing that can be given than Him! The enjoyment of that favor in its fullness is available to us by the heart response of faith. The more we humbly accept the more of it we experience. We may only proportionally receive it, but that is the result of our pride, not a result of His giving.
If we live with a system in relating to God that is from “I do in order to get” then we will miss the joy of knowing what’s already been given. We’ll also live under the pressure of thinking our behavior has to be perfect before we can experience God. We will live without the peace of knowing what Christ has done!
Because of Jesus Christ, we are invited to a life of freedom and rest. The door is open to experience a fundamental change deep within. The seismic shift of the heart will create a groundswell of change in how we think about our circumstances, how we relate, and how we feel. While circumstances may cause pressure outwardly, this new way of knowing God will free us from enslaving fear, worry, and insecurity. There is rest because of Jesus Christ! There is peace in living in what He has done for us!